Rotherham Council has allowed the names of four Asian men suspected of sexually exploiting a white teenager to remain secret by dropping a legal challenge to keep them away from her, it has emerged.
The vulnerable girl, who is white and from South Yorkshire, was found in a hotel room with one of the men in August, surrounded by cannabis, alcohol, condoms, and female Asian clothing, the Daily Mail has reported. Yet the judge hearing the case agreed there was “insufficient evidence” to suggest she had been exploited.
Rotherham council had been seeking an injunction to ban the girl, known only as ‘Child G’, from seeing the men, but dropped the bid last week due to “insufficient evidence” and had been accused of trying to cover the decision up by preventing it from being heard in public. The case was publicly heard after the press complained.
The girl was said by Mr. Justice Cobb, ruling on the case in Rotherham, to be “a damaged, chaotic, young person”. Yet he agreed that there was “insufficient evidence” that the girl had been sexually exploited and lifted an interim injunction preventing the girl from seeing the men.
However, he refused an application by The Times to have a reporting restriction lifted, meaning that the men can only be referred to as MM, NN, HH, and LL, granting them “lifelong anonymity”, according to the Mail. The Times did not challenge the reporting ban on the girl’s name.
Justice Cobb said in his ruling that allowing the men’s names to be reported could allow for “jigsaw identification” of the girl.
The case comes just over a week after the victim of a child grooming gang told Breitbart London that child sexual exploitation was still happening, and that police had failed to investigate 80 men she had named as her abusers.
On Tuesday, the judge said: “Nobody can doubt the evil of child sexual exploitation.”
He described the girl as “a white female young person, in her late-teens” who first come to the attention of Rotherham social services in 2012.
In 2014, the judge said: “Reports were received that she was spending time in the company of, and indeed was in relationships with, an Asian man or men.”
He added: “It was known that she had personal and sexual relationships, sequentially, with NN, HH, and LL (in that order). There were concerns about the nature of those relationships.”
There was evidence at the time that some of the men had assaulted her, and that she was frightened of HH.
“It is not clear to me, from the information provided for this specific application, why steps were not taken earlier to protect Child G by way of an order under Part IV of the Children Act 1989,” he said.
In August she was found in a hotel room with LL. MM had also been to the hotel but had gone home.
“Among the items found with them in the hotel were vodka, cannabis, condoms, and Asian female clothing,” the judge said.
“Police protection was immediately sought for Child G. The officers attending at the scene believed that she was the victim of child sexual exploitation by LL and potentially the other males. She was immediately conveyed to, and placed in, a safe house.”
LL and MM were arrested on suspicion of trafficking for sexual exploitation contrary to under the Modern Slavery Act, the court heard.
The judge concluded: “That this case concludes now with the local authority seeking no further injunctive order does not reflect a failure on the part of the safeguarding investigation; nor does it reflect an overly-hasty rush to justice without proper consideration of the evidence.
“I am satisfied that Rotherham Council had proper cause swiftly to take steps to protect a young person when the evidence appeared to indicate that she was at serious risk.”
He added: “No-one reading the statements of evidence, or I apprehend the outline above, will be unconcerned about Child G. She is a damaged, chaotic, young person, of that I am in no doubt.
“Tragically, she has been the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse from different quarters over a number of years.
“There is evidence that she was involved in dysfunctional relationships in the past with one or more of the associated males, but insufficient evidence to support a finding that this amounted to child sexual exploitation by any or all of them.”