The “miserable silence” of those who refused to take part in Rotherham CSE inquiry

By Gareth Dennison | 08/09/2017

The “miserable silence” of those who refused to take part in Rotherham CSE inquiry
Commissioner Mary Ney, who chaired the meeting

COUNCIL leader Chris Read accused past senior councillors and managers of a “miserable silence” after it emerged several refused to take part in the inquiry.

Some declined to be interviewed, some failed to respond to interview requests and others only responded in writing “on some points”.

Roger Stone, leader 2003-14

Elected in 1988 and given an OBE for service government in 2009. 
Quit leader role on day of Jay report and as a councillor three months later, having claimed £3,000 allowances without attending meetings or surgeries.
Accused of “living in a parallel universe” when he appeared before MPs to deny Jay report claims he fostered a “macho, bullying” culture.

Declined to take part in this week’s Gowlings report

Shaun Wright, Cabinet member for children’s services 2005-10; South Yorkshire police 2012-2014

Quit a month after the Jay report.
Now under investigation by police watchdog over claims he lied to MPs in denying he was aware of widespread while at RMBC.

Declined to take part in this week’s Gowlings report

Paul Lakin, Cabinet members for children’s services 2010-2014, leader 2014-15

Believed to have convinced Roger Stone to commission the Jay report in 2013.

Quit as leader in February 2015 when the Casey report said branded the council “not fit for purpose”.

Cancelled an interview with Gowlings and did not reschedule

Martin Kimber, chief executive 2009-14

After a 2013 report by MPs criticised the “woeful lack” of professional curiosity among the council’s leadership, Mr Kimber said: “I agree with the sentiments in the report that senior people should be held responsible and accountable for their actions.”

Left RMBC in October 2014 — with a £26,000 pay-off — and apologised to “those who were let down” having earlier called himself “part of the solution, not part of the problem”.

Refused to be interviewed but agreed to provide written response

Mike Cuff, chief executive 2004-09

Apologised for council failings after the Jay report, saying he took his share of responsibility. 

Praised council social workers and police for 2008’s Operation Central, which secured the first major CSE convictions in 2010, when five men were jailed for 32 years.

Refused to be interviewed but agreed to provide written response

Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive 2001-03

Arrested in May this year on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation relating to a police probe into finances while he was boss at Lancashire Council.

Currently suspended from post as Liverpool Council chief executive and on police bail until November.

Refused to be interviewed but agreed to provide written response

Joyce Thacker, children’s director 2008-14

Denied the council had “failed dismally” on CSE when questioned by MPs in 2013.

Said Jay Report told a clear story of improvements since 2010 and was “heartened that the report has recognised I have made a difference.” 

Quit the council 22 days later with £40,000 pay-off.

Refused to be interviewed but gave written response “to a number of points”

Ex-youth service manager Christine Brodhurst Brown and Tom Cray, former director of neighbourhoods and adult services, also refused to take part or failed to respond.

Other officers responding only in writing included Pam Allen, a former director and Annie Redmond, service manager of the operational safeguarding unit from 2008 to 2010.

Alan Carruthers, who was chief executive between 1999 and 2000, was interviewed. 

He said he was aware of the work of youth project Risky Business, which had been running since 1997, but that no specific issues about CSE were brought to his attention during his tenure.

A report on office conduct said: “Mr Carruthers seemed unaware of the systemic issues that blighted the operation of Risky Business in its formative years, but there is no evidence that its findings or the concerns it raised, were brought to his attention.”

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