DISGRACED ex-policing chief Shaun Wright could be invited before a panel to explain himself over claims he lied to Parliament in relation to child sex abuse in Rotherham — but cannot be forced to attend.
The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel will decide at a meeting in Rotherham on Thursday if the complaint — stemming from his appearance before the home affairs select committee in September 2014 — should be referred to Parliament for consideration or set aside.
A report prepared by legal advisor Stuart Fletcher says the panel, as part of its "Informal Resolution” process, could form a subcommittee “in order to hear any explanation as to the conduct involved” from the former police and crime commissioner.
But he notes that Mr Wright (pictured) could provide an explanation “by correspondence” and “would not be obliged to engage with this process”.
Furthermore, this would not count as a disciplinary process and the panel is not able to impose any sanctions if it believes any misconduct has been involved.
The only action Mr Wright could eventually face over the complaint — which alleges he misled MPs when he denied having any knowledge of widespread abuse in Rotherham before the publication of the Jay Report in 2014 — is possible contempt of Parliament proceedings.
But Mr Fletcher said panel members should bear in mind “Parliament's powers in respect of contempt are used very sparingly”.
The panel can also decide to take no further action.
The Advertiser reported last month how a report was being prepared for the panel to consider at its next meeting after the Independent Police Complaints Commission declined to investigate further.
The IPCC said misleading a parliamentary committee would not amount to a criminal offence, meaning it could not take action itself, and referred the complaint back to the police and crime panel for consideration.
Mr Wright,giving evidence under oath, told the select committee no-one had raised the issue of child sexual exploitation with him during his spell as Rotherham Borough Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services between 2005 and 2010 — a large section of the 16-year period covered by the Jay Report.
He said he “could not recall” a meeting with a victim in which she said she had given him a “detailed graphic account” of her abuse.
The report said 1,400 children — mainly white girls — had been exploited and abused, largely by men of Pakistani origin.
Mr Wright, who resigned three weeks after the report was published, was widely criticised by MPs during the select committee hearing, with chairman Keith Vaz calling his evidence “entirely unconvincing”.
The PCP will begin Thursday’s meeting by electing a new chairman or chairwoman, as the previous holder of that role, Sioned-Mair Richards, lost her Sheffield Council seat in the local elections last month.
Those in the running include Rotherham UKIP councillor Brian Cutts, who was re-elected in May, Labour’s Cllr Stuart Sansome (Rotherham), Cllr Chris McGuinness, Cllr Alan Jones (both Doncaster), Cllr Robert Frost (Barnsley) and Sheffield Lib Dem Joe Otten.
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