A senior child protection officer who was criticised for failing to speak out about widespread sexual abuse by Pakistani gangs has quit her post with a six-figure payoff, only to be immediately rehired on almost £1,000 a day.
Sue Berelowitz, who was deputy children’s commissioner for England, received a £134,000 payoff when she took voluntary redundancy at the end of last month, but was rehired the next day as a consultant.
She caused anger in 2012 when she wrote a report denying there was a growing number of Pakistani grooming gangs in Rochdale and Rotherham, insisting that abuse was carried out by men of all backgrounds. However, an independent inquiry later found that at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused by man of mainly Pakistani descent between 1997 and 2013.
Victims’ groups and MPs have described the move as scandalous and the Times reports Treasury officials have launched an inquiry into the re-hiring. A spokeswoman said: “It’s wrong for someone to take redundancy payments then be immediately rehired as an external consultant.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz, who formerly served as head of the Home Affairs Select Committee, added: “There is no justification for a public official to receive such a huge sum of money to then continue to do the same work.”
The case is another example of a “revolving door” culture in Whitehall where pubic officials are rehired as outside consultants after receiving lucrative redundancy payoffs. Ms Berelowtiz’s severance package was especially large at twice the usual rate for a civil servant because the Office of the Children’s Commissioner decided to treat it as a “special” payment.
Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: “At a time when frontline police officers are struggling to deal with a major increase in the reporting of child abuse, it’s a disgrace that taxpayers’ money is being frittered away like this. This is yet another ugly example of quango largesse and zero accountability. How can this possibly be good value for money for the taxpayer?”
The father of a girl who was abused in Rotherham said the arrangement was “scandalous”, adding: “I don’t think she should have accepted that amount.”