Breaking News Keith Vaz calling Shaun Wright to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee

Breaking News: Keith Vaz calling Shaun Wright to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee

Tweet about Tuesday, thought you might like to see it:

Keith Vaz MP ‏@Keith_VazMP

Great evidence from Andrew Norfolk today on child grooming. Will now call the officals from Rotheram and of course the PCC.

26 thoughts on “Breaking News Keith Vaz calling Shaun Wright to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee

  1. From Chris Longley

    If this is so, then I am pleased that Councillor Wright will now have an opportunity before the Select Committee to answer those questions about Hillsborough, Orgreave and about the gang abuse of Rotherham children during his half decade as Cabinet Member for Safeguarding Children in Rotherham that the entire PCC election campaign apparently did not afford him.

    I look forward to hearing his answers.

    Kind regards to all

    Chris Longley

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  2. Best news I’ve heard since learning that our Kev’s selling his Maltby house (and resigning hopefully)

    Chris Longley : it wasn’t that the PCC campaign “did not afford” Shaun Wright the opportunity to speak out, it was that he wouldn’t answer the questions that were put to him !
    🙂

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  3. For the public record, this is the text of the letter that I sent yesterday to every Member of the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons. I am pleased that The Select Committe have now indicated they wish to speak with Councillor Wright.

    “3 December 2012

    The Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP
    Chair of the Home Affairs Committee
    House of Commons,
    London, SW1A 0AA

    Please circulate to the Members of your Committee. I would be most grateful.

    Dear Mr Vaz,

    Future Scrutiny of South Yorkshire Police Issues including child abuse and Hillsborough, and Councillor Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire

    I have watched events concerning the South Yorkshire Police, their operations and the recent altered arrangements for their scrutiny and oversight with interest since the 1980’s.

    The new Police and Crime Commissioner, Councillor Shaun Wright, will have much to do and your Committee has already taken something of a watching brief on some of the matters of grave public concern about policing in South Yorkshire which will face him.

    Your Committee has already spoken with David Crompton the new Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police on some of these matters, and I will cover these dealings first before I proceed to Councillor Wright in his new role..

    1 The Chief Constable, David Crompton

    I watched the questioning by your Committee of David Crompton, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire.

    The information he gave to your Committee about his actions in respect of the IPCC investigation into Hillsborough was timely and as I recall was accepted by your Committee as the most appropriate course of action he could take. It is right that the South Yorkshire force should stand back from the IPCC investigations in the interests of openness and transparency, and this the Chief Constable said he had done. Again, your Committee agreed.

    About child abuse, your Committee posed a series of questions to the Chief Constable and to his junior colleague about matters that had happened in the main before the Chief Constable was appointed. He described the actions he has taken since his relatively recent appointment and the partnership child protection processes now in place at his behest.

    2 The Police and Crime Commissioner, Councillor Shaun Wright

    Councillor Shaun Wright, who does indeed remain a Rotherham Borough Councillor at the time at which I write this letter, is now in office as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire having been duly elected.

    Given the serious nature of the issues that face policing in South Yorkshire no doubt you will invite him to attend your proceedings as soon as possible.

    2.1 Hillsborough

    In his previous role as Vice Chair of the South Yorkshire Police Authority, Councillor Wright was also Chair of the Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Police Scrutiny Board.

    It might be helpful for the Committee to understand personally from Councillor Wright in his own words how he could Chair this vital part of the Yorkshire region’s overall policing scrutiny arrangements (as well as being Vice Chair of the South Yorkshire Police Authority at the same time) and yet so clearly be totally unaware of the scale and the nature of the issues revealed by the Independent Hillsborough Panel in the specific force for which he also held a scrutiny responsibility.

    It will be interesting to hear Councillor Wrights’ answers to “what did he know and when did he know it?” about Hillsborough because there is scant information from him on these matters in the public domain.

    If the now Police and Crime Commissioner of South Yorkshire did know about the scale and nature of the issues uncovered by the Independent Hillsborough Panel, it would be fair to ask why did he do nothing about them?

    Clearly the more specific are Councillor Wright’s answers, the more help they will be to the Committee.

    2.2 Rotherham Child Abuse

    So that the Committee are clear about his responsibilities in this matter, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council confirm to me that Councillor Shaun Wright became Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services for Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council on 20th May 2005.
    Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council also confirms to me that being re-appointed by the Council annually in May, Councillor Wright performed that role for an unbroken period of time until 21st May 2010. I have the emails that say this.
    For the avoidance of all doubt therefore, Councillor Wright was in charge of safeguarding children throughout Rotherham between 20 May 2005 and 21 May 2010 continuously.
    Others sources will tell you about the timing, nature and effectiveness of the activities of Rotherham Borough Council in relation to systematic gang-based child abuse during the time of Councillor Wright’s chairmanship, and which are firmly in the public domain.
    However, there is nothing in the public record about “what Councillor Wright knew, when did he know it and what did he do as Chair?” about these disgraceful activities and the damage that the gangs involved did to so many children and those family, friends and carers who tried individually to protect these children.
    In particular it would be instructive to know what written, verbal or other guidance he received on these matters from any Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council officers who presumably advised the Panel and the Safeguarding Board of which Councillor Wright was Chair.
    Clearly the more specific are Councillor Wright’s answers to these matters also, the more help they will be to the Committee.

    For example, if the maintenance of “community relations” was indeed more important than the safety of all the children who were being abused systematically, no doubt there will be a record that shows this and who gave such an instruction or signified the pursuit of such an approach.

    Let us hope the necessary records have not been redacted so they can still in 2012 be of assistance to Councillor Wright when he comes before the Committee. If full records are so confidential that they must remain out of the public gaze, no doubt the Committee could meet in camera to examine and discuss them.
    2.3 Orgreave
    In the public domain accounts of the trials of the 91 people accused of riot and associated activities at Orgreave, it is clear that the Courts found the evidence given by the police against all the defendants to be wholly insufficient and not credible. There are suggestions that evidence was altered in a co-ordinated manner, and doubtless this will become clearer after the IPCC have investigated.
    All the defendants walked free from their trial. There are no records of any statement in the public domain from Councillor Wright on this grave matter which precedes Hillsborough.

    3 Concluding notes and comments

    The open, transparent and absolute clearing up of these three issues that stain South Yorkshire is now under the scrutiny of Councillor Wright as the new Police and Crime Commissioner.

    It is vital that your Committee understands what he knew about these issues, what he did if anything whilst he held his appropriate offices, and what effect those actions had on the victims, the families and the carers over whose safety and interests he held such office.

    I look forward to seeing Councillor Wright being given the opportunity of a full discussion with your Committee on these issues. I hope it is in the near future.

    I confirm for the record that I have never been nor am I a member of any political party, and nor will I ever be.

    Yours faithfully

    Chris Longley

    Chris Longley MBE
    Non-political adviser to Robert Teal, the Liberal Democrat Candidate in the recent South Yorkshire PCC Election Campaign.”

    ENDS

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  4. On the main point, it is unclear to me who else may be asked to be a witness at the Home Affairs Select Committee. Keith Vaz certainly said that Rotherham Council would be witnesses, but I did not hear whether any individuals were named.

    Nor do I know when these sessions involving Councillor Wright or the representatives of Rotherham MBC will take place. I hope it is very soon.

    But I also hope that the witnesses are all Elected Representatives.

    Because it is only fair that they should account in public for the actions or inactions of – and the issues of attitude, culture and process within – their organisation that their officers were employed to discharge.

    Chris Longley

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    • I have been attending all the recent select committee meetings on childgrooming and hope to continue to do so. I received notifications of upcoming sessions and who is appearing so I will of course share that information via this site and Twitter. The notification normally goes out about a week before each session.
      Mr Vaz has previously mentioned his intention to call the chief executive of Rotherham Council.
      We’ve all been lobbying Mr Vaz to include elected members and, in particular Shaun Wright. It’s good that he is listening.
      I understand it is highly unlikely there will be any further sessions before Christmas.

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  5. Chris, throughout the PCC election campaign, both Nigel Bonson and I vociferously challenged Shaun Wright over the allegations that he was at fault in this. We produced OFSTED documents and others showing that his time in office as cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services led to a rating of “Poor”. Despite this he maintained at a public hustings and on radio when challenged that he was “proud” of his record. He can be quoted as defending himself by saying that during his tenure the department maintained a record as “best performing in the country”. In fact by the time he left it was one of the worst. He misled the public at those debates. If he goes before Keith Vaz now and affects a different position then that too must be challenged. Strongly.

    At the election count in Barnsley I was robustly challenged by Shaun Wright’s entourage who accused me of “running a dirty campaign” amongst other things because I had repeatedly raised the very important issue of Child Grooming in Rotherham. Gillian Radcliffe has been diligent and determined that someone should be held accountable for the failings those young girls experienced. The English Democrat candidate was also very frank in his challenges on this. I wonder, will Mr Wright be accompanied to the Select Committee by a similar “gang” and will they put the same amount of condemnation upon Keith Vaz for daring to ask the same questions?

    Hopefully Keith Vaz will not duck his responsibility to bring the right people to account over this. I believe Joyce Thacker also needs to be transparent about her knowledge of events at this time, alongside the elected representatives who may have had a complicit role in events

    Chris, I am curious as to why you are suddenly, now, very vocal on this? I would hope it isn’t a (not too subtle) attempt to position the Lib Dem camp for a potential rematch because that would be both opportunist and deeply insulting to the girls and families who suffered. I’m afraid it would also be rather unfair when Mr Wright has yet to go before a committee and answer the questions which is all the rest of us have been hoping for for a long time now.

    I want answers. I hope Keith Vaz gets them.

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    • Dear Gillian Radcliffe and Vonny Watts

      Thank you both very much for your notes and comments, and for your questions too. I will try to deal with them all insofaras I am able. This note is too long, but please bear with me.

      For background, I suspect that both of you have had a much longer experience of how Rotherham runs than either I or Robert Teal had when we came to the recent PCC campaign.

      But as the PCC campaign went on we began to get more information about Councillor Wright that, in our defence, we as an opposing candidate’s team found incredible. We didn’t want to believe what we were being told, and the problem was that so much of it was anonymous. When we asked for evidence we got “everybody knows”, but that was no basis on which to make accusations which is why we only ever felt able to ask questions.

      But as the campaign progressed we got more information about the overlaps of dates, of the roles that Councillor Wright held and especially about the events in Rotherham that saw so many children abused.

      The sideshows of his peoples’ attempts at “stacked” Hustings, his non-appearances on tv and radio that stopped everybody else appearing on grounds of “balance”, and the absolute refusal of Councillor Wright ever to answer a single question didn’t really cause us great surprise. We were campaigning against a ghost. The surprises came when we started belatedly to ask why?

      But by then it really was too late. The effective “purdah” rules that the press adopted in the election run up excluded anything forensic, and the cash available to our campaign allowed a few tens of thousands of our leaflets to be distributed by a cadre of willing volunteers to whom we were very grateful. But that was it. In the event Robert kept his deposit, which I think even his party colleagues would accept in these strange political times is a very good performance for a LIbDem.

      But the calls and the rumours didn’t stop after the election. The outcome is my letter to Keith Vaz MP,

      For the record, this really is only about making sure the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner is fully capable of holding the role of scrutinising the police when they face the issues of Rotherham Child Abuse, Hillsborough and Orgreave. Because he was for five years a controling actor in one of these tragedies and we have no idea to this day of what he did or did not do. It is his silence and his refusal to account for five years of authority in that role that may or may not be speaking volumes.

      But it is absolutely not about a party issue. I have made very clear in my letter that I am of no party, and nor will I be. Those who know me will also know that I am nobody’s stalking horse either. There is political profit for no-one in this, just the chance for a shadow to be lifted.

      I simply want Councillor Wright held to account before Parliament for the half a decade he personally was in charge of children’s safety in his own town whilst the evidence shows children were being abused on a large scale, and I am pleased that finally that holding to account is to happen. I will watch it with interest.

      The outcome is for others.

      Again, my apologies for a too lengthy note, but I hope it covers the ground fully.

      Kind regards

      Chris Longley

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    • Dear Vonny Watts

      You are most kind.

      I do hope that I managed also to cover the issues that Gillian Radcliffe raised in her note to me.

      If I did not, I hope she will say so and that she will ask further questions.

      I will then try my best to answer them.

      Kind regards

      Chris longley

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      • Thanks Chris. I don’t believe I asked any questions of you. I was simply providing some factual information about the select committee hearings and the scope of its interest.
        I don’t live in Rotherham and all of this only came to my attention, through the ongoing diligence of people on this site over a much longer period and through the Times’ investigations – when I returned to South Yorkshire earlier this year to stand as an independent PCC candidate. Although I had to withdraw due to finances, I’d by then become so outraged about this issue – and about the ongoing underperformance and complacency by RMBC over child sexual exploitation – that I feel duty bound to continue doing my bit as a South Yorkshire resident to call people to account.
        As far as I’m concerned, the more of us involved in this effort, the better so welcome aboard.

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  6. Dear Gillian

    Thank you for your note.

    On the narrow point about the attendance of Shaun Wright before the Home Affairs Select Committee, I have this morning telephoned the office of Keith Vaz MP at the House of Commons to find out the date and the time of the session to which Shaun Wright will be invited to give evidence. I will publicise that date and time widely, including to the BBC locally and nationally, and on this blog when I have the information. I hope it is very swift, because the matter deserves serious and public examination.

    I also have to say, and I hope this is not unpopular with the readers of this blog, that when Shaun Wright does finally testify before the Select Committee that we will discover that all his actions were in good faith, and that he scrutinised the evidence and the guidance given to him in a balanced manner before making his decisions accordingly.

    I say this because I do not wish to discover that the now duly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire acted in any other way. It is too imporatant a role for for his actions in his previous roles to be anything but wholly decent. Simple “procedural correctness” will not do.

    My quandry – and it clearly echos the quandry of yourself and others – is that if all Shaun Wright’s actions were informed, considered and duly decided, why have no statements of proof of this ever reached the public domain. It would have been so easy.

    KInd regards

    Chris Longley

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    • As I said before Chris, I already receive and share notifications about upcoming evidence on localised child grooming being heard by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

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      • From Chris Longley:
        Here is the text of a further email that I sent on 10 December 2012:

        “The Clerk
        Home Affairs Select Committee
        House of Commons London SW1 0AA

        Dear Sir/Madam/Ms

        Please tell me when Councillor Shaun Wright, now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, will give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

        I would be most grateful for your help.

        I have written separately to the Chair and all the Members of the Select Committee on this matter, and also about Councillor Wrights recent roles in relation to the scrutiny of Hillsborough and Orgreave.

        I also attach a copy of my letter, dated and sent on December 3 2012, the day before your most recent session and which covers these matters.

        I look forward to your reply

        Yours faithfully

        Chris Longley

        Chris Longley MBE”

        For Rothpol blog:

        I, as I am sure will Gillian Radcliffe, will publish the date and timing of Councillor Wrights eveidence before the Select Committee. His evidence will deserve scrutiny and clearly the Select Committee will welcome any additional related evidence that might be material.

        I sent the above email because at the tine of writing it (10 December 2012) I had not had a reply from the Office of Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Select Committee.

        The letter referred to in my immediately above text is my letter dated 3 December 2012 that I have already posted above in this blog sequence. In that letter Section 2.2 refers to child abuse in Rotherham and the period of time (2005 to 2010) during which Councillor Wright held office as Cabinet Member with responsibilities for child safeguarding throughout Rotherham.

        Chris Longley MBE

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  7. From Chris Longley. Below is the text of an email that I have sent to Keith Vaz MP today and which I have copied to len Tingle of the BBC Look North programme.

    “The Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP
    Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

    Dear Mr Vaz

    I would be most grateful if you would tell me the date and the timing of the session of the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons to which you intend that Councillor Shaun Wright, the duly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, will be asked to give evidence which I presume will be in relation to the abuse of children in Rotherham.

    I am copying this email to Len Tingle, Politics Editor of the BBC tv Look North programme for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for his attention and I would be most grateful if you could include him in the circulation of your reply.

    Kind regards and I look forward to your reply.

    Chris Longley
    Chris Longley MBE”

    PS for the blog (Not included in my email to Keith Vaz MP):
    I have also been in touch with the private office of the Home Secretary the Rt Hon Theresa May PC MP with a request for specific information in respect of certain reserve powers that she could have available to her. I will post the reply I receive as soon as I receive it.

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      • From Chris Longley:

        As I have said before in this blog, in my opinion the legislation that set up Police and Crime Commissioners is badly drafted and was poorly scrutinised. What follows here only serves to reinforce my view.

        I have asked the Home Office by email (a) what reserve powers are available to the Home Secretary (or others) to remove a Police and Crime Commissioner and (b) if such powers exist on what grounds could they be exercised.

        The reply came quickly from a very couteous and helpful civil servant in the Home Office, and I give his email reply here in full:

        “Mr Longley,

        Further to our conversation yesterday morning, I can confirm that there are no powers for the Home Secretary (or any other body) to remove an elected PCC from office – they either lose an election or are disqualified from holding office if they are convicted of an offence carrying an imprisonable sentence. Were a PCC to be charged with an offence which carried a maximum custodial sentence exceeding two years, the respective Police and Crime Panel may suspend the PCC pending the outcome of the charge.

        Further details concerning eligibility and disqualification are set out in Chapter 6 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/13/part/1/chapter/6/crossheading/disqualification/enacted .

        Kind regards,

        Tim Brotherton
        Police Reform Unit
        Home Office ”

        ENDS full text of Home Office email.

        I have emailed back and thanked Mr Brotherton for his assistance.

        Notes for blog from Chris Longley:

        1. This email confirms that there are no fall back PCC dismissal arrangements in the law that are available to the Home Secretary. In effect it means that no Police and Crime Commissioner can actually be removed unless they are convicted in office of a criminal offence. If they are charged in office with such an offence, they can merely be suspended but this would be at the discretion of the (Members of the) Police and Crime Panel for their area.

        2. Also, there is apparently no mechanism simliar to that which applies to Members of Parliament whereby holding an office of paid employ under the Crown (“The Chiltern Hundreds” in the case of MPs) automatically disqualifies an MP from holding their elected office. A PCC can however simply resign.

        In effect, therefore, a PCC who is not charged or found guilty of a criminal offence can remain in office unless non-statutory pressures of sufficient force can be brought to bear to make their position untenable. What those pressures may be will presumably be tested in due course.

        Kind regards

        Chris Longley MBE

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    • I have today emailed again the Clerk to the Home Affairs Select Committee. I have done so because as at today’s date I had received no email reply to my similar request of 10 December 2012.

      I have also pointed out that in my view it would be inapprpriate for the (new) Chief Constable, David Crompton, to be questioned on these matters at the same time as Councillor Wright.

      The reason I have made this point is that i do not beileve that the Chief Constable should be a shield for Councillor Wright when matters that took place before the Chief Constable was in office, but whilst Councillor Wright was very much in office as Chair of the Rotherham children’s safeguarding board, are raised.

      I include below the content of my email:

      “30 December 2012

      The Clerk
      Home Affairs Select Committee
      House of Commons London SW1 0AA

      Dear Sir/Madam/Ms

      Further to my email of 10 December 2012, please tell me when Councillor Shaun Wright, now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, will give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

      I understand this evidence will be about his role in the safeguarding of children in Rotherham during the half decade in which he chaired the borough’s safeguarding board, and during which time there is evidence of substantial and organised child abuse.

      I would be most grateful for your help.

      I look forward to your reply giving the date and time of the session at which Councillor Wright will give evidence.

      I trust this will not be the same occasion on which the present Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, David Crompton QPM, will be asked to report back to the Select Committee on his current activities in respect of improving and augmenting the systems of child protection arrangements and activities throughout South Yorkshire.

      The Chief Constable was not in office whilst Councillor Wright was Chair of the safeguarding board in Rotherham and it would be a pity to allow a blurring, however unintentionally, of these very different situations.

      Yours faithfully

      Chris Longley MBE”

      I will inform Rothpol readers of the reply from the Clerk to the Home Affairs Select Committee immediately I receive it.

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