In 2002 a raid on Risky Business office, files held there were shredded. These files formed the basis of a report that revealed the extent of CSE in Rotherham. This report named names, schools and other places where young girls, and we now know maybe boys, were approached.
It also named taxi firms involved in both grooming and the transportation of young girls for the purposes of their prostitution. Taxi drivers were critical to the industrialization of CSE, moving girls around sometimes even between towns.
Much has been made of Akhtars aggressive role in the Council, however what mustn’t be forgotten is his senior role in the local Taxi business.
For many years he was leader of the Taxi Drivers association, and himself was joint owner of a private hire firm. He is notorious among drivers for somehow getting himself a highly lucrative disabled taxi permit. Very cheaply.
Akhtar is now denying having knowledge of the extent of grooming until 2013, and by implication how taxis were used in the abuse and prostitution. Personally, I find this incredible.
Since becoming aware of the CSE issue on a couple of occasions when in taxis with drivers I could trust, I pretended to be a concerned father, and asked if there were firms my daughter should avoid?
On both occasions each driver confirmed that dangerous firms existed, and one driver named two firms to avoid. I didn’t recognise one, and the driver told me the owners had closed down one firm after developing such a bad reputation that they were coming under scrutiny and losing business.
They had re-emerged under this new name.
Now the question for Akhtar.
What did you know about the uses of taxis for CSE in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when you were the single most powerful and influential Taxi driver in Rotherham and co owner of a firm?
When you were de facto leader of the taxi drivers, When you were their lead representative on licensing committees, including representing drivers faced with loss of license for reasons of crimes including sexual assault.
The world of the permanent, full time taxi driver is a small one. They meet up at the office, and regularly and when hanging around waiting for fares. They gossip, discuss rates, difficult customers and human nature being as it is, girls. Among the Pakistani community this world is even smaller, with jobs and even taxis being shared. Where whole families have rights to work in certain firms.
So Akhtar. In your role as the biggest spider at the centre of this taxi world web, a man known to be mildly paranoid and a control freak, please tell us what you knew?
Were you in any way associated with the firms named in that shredded 2002 report? Don’t tell porkies Akhtar, I know the names of those firms will emerge,
While writing this I heard on radio the astonishing tale from a former driver, about a taxi firm he worked for with a Council Contract. To register a fare undertaken on behalf of the Council they were given passwords that would be appended to an invoice to the Council, this guaranteed payment.
The Taxi firms and drivers abused these passwords and on occasions, he said, that the passwords were used to bill for prostitution runs involving young girls.
Akhtar, did you know about these passwords?
Did you work or were you a partner in a Taxi firm that held such contracts?
To all Councillors, is there, was there a free to you arrangement wherein you could charge taxis to the Council?
ps thanks to Andrew Norfolk for another exclusive in the Times about the shredded report.
Originally published as : Akhtar…a spider at the centre of the taxi trade web.