“South Yorkshire Police(SYP) appear to have colluded in an outrageous programme of misinformation aimed at supporting an individual politician, Jahangir Akhtar.
They are quoted as saying “[SYP]has now completed the inquiry and found no evidence to substantiate the claims”. The claims being those made in a series of articles by Andrew Norfolk in The Times.
I have corresponded with Andrew who states:
“We [The Times] stand by every word published in those articles, which reported, in relation to Mr Akhtar, his role in March 2000 in the recovery of a sexually exploited child [referred to as Jessica.] She was 14, pregnant, missing from home and in the company of a violent convicted offender, Arshid Hussain, who was suspected of grooming and using numerous underage Rotherham girls for sex. Hussain was a relative of Mr Akhtar.
We reported that an extraordinary deal was agreed under which Hussain agreed to hand the girl to the police at a petrol station after receiving an assurance that he would not be detained, and that Mr Akhtar was involved in the discussions that led to this deal”.
“Mr Akhtar, in a face-to-face interview with The Times, actually ADMITTED the “allegations” that have apparently been found to have “no evidence to substantiate them”.
In the interview with Andrew the only matter disputed by Akhtar was an assertion by the young women that he was in the immediate vicinity of the petrol station when the handover took place. To ensure fairness The Times in their article repeated and gave prominence to Akhtar’s denial.
Andrew Norfolk was not interviewed by Police in connection with this latest investigation save being asked whether he had a “a legally-admissible shorthand note of what Akhtar admitted to him during the face-to-face meeting” Of course he had such a note, as otherwise the Time’s solicitor would not have sanctioned printing the story. NB Just as with the Police, a journalist’s notes are accepted in court, so they were testing the strength of his evidence.
SYP did not have to undertake this investigation, regardless of who requested it.
They could simply have said there was not an accusation of criminal behaviour & left it at that. If pressed could they have added that they are currently undertaking a wider investigation into child sex grooming that includes the case of Jessica.
And here is why Rotherham is a scarier place. By stating they “found no evidence to substantiate the [in the Times] claims” SYP have pre-empted the results of their own wider enquiry, and in effect found against Jessica who made some of those claims.
In compiling an unnecessary & thoroughly misleading press release they have thrown away their own processes in order to provide comfort to one politician.
And have been active in a process of disinformation that is partial, corrupted and politicised.
There is a smell, that I am sure many Police Officers will be ashamed of.”