Wright resigns from Labour party but refuses to quit top police job
He is accused of failing to act on warnings of widespread sexual abuse of children and has faced calls to resign from home secretary Theresa May and his own party, with Labour threatening him with suspension from the party on Thursday morning if he did not step down.
But Wright, who was responsible for children and young people’s services at Rotherham council from 2005 to 2010, resigned from the party late on Wednesday night.
In a statement, he said he took full responsibility for his part in “the collective failures which took place” and had already done so when he resigned from the council in 2010.
He said he has “taken that experience to deliver a major transformation in the way South Yorkshire police deals with horrific crimes such as child sexual exploitation”.
Prof Alexis Jay’s independent report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham this week revealed that more than 1,400 children across the borough were victims of child sexual abuse between 1997 and 2013. It said that Wright, in his former post, received three separate warnings but did not act upon them.
Rotherham council’s leader, Roger Stone, resigned on Tuesday but Wright has refused to go.
Theresa May said: “Shaun Wright obviously has had involvement in this, both as his role as a councillor and obviously he’s now the police and crime commissioner.
“I believe he has real questions to answer and I think in the circumstances he should heed those calls (to resign).”
But, in his statement, Wright said he remained committed to his role as PCC and intended to keep it.
He said he had a 20-year record in public service and said it was with “deep regret” that he had decided to leave the Labour party. He will continue in his post as an independent.
He said: “As a father, and a citizen of South Yorkshire, my thoughts are with the victims and their families and I reiterate my apology to them and take full responsibility for my part in the collective failures which took place at Rotherham council during the time I was in office and indeed to that end I resigned in 2010.”
But he said he stood by his earlier comments and insisted that “much progress has been made” since he was elected as commissioner.
IN TOMORROW’S ADVERTISER we reveal the names of those involved in a seminar held to discuss child sexual exploitation in Rotherham as long ago as 2005, call for more heads to roll, publish comments from MPs and community leaders and the story of a victim, and we ask: who knew what?