Jayne Senior has accumulated many enemies as a result of her role in exposing the cover up of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
That she should be hated by the bureaucrats at RMBC and cold shouldered by other members of the Labour group on the council was only to be expected.
The criticism she has faced from a group of survivors whom she formerly helped was a little more surprising. But one thing no one could have predicted was that she should targeted for a takedown by the BBC in the form of “Look North”.
“Look North” began work some months ago on a programme aimed at discrediting Ms Senior and the former “Risky Business” project that she helped to lead before it was “taken in house” (ie shut down) by RMBC.
Lest readers suppose that I am merely surmising the motives of the programme makers they should know that Gaggan Sabherwal, apparently the lead journalist for the project, confided to one of my sources her intention to “get Jayne”.
To this end she has been soliciting survivors for information to the discredit of Risky Business. She also seems intent on questioning the claim made by the Jay report that the total of gang related CSE victims over the period studied came to at least 1,400.
Gaggan’s aims cohere well. It is impossible to attack Jay’s estimate without attacking Ms Senior and Risky Business as Risky Business dealt with around 1,700 cases of gang related CSE. Jayne and her colleagues must therefore be branded liars if revisionism is to get off the ground.
Nevertheless the question arises as to why the BBC would wish to discredit Jay.
One possible answer lies in Gaggan’s association with the anti-Senior group of survivors.
The father of the survivor closest to Gaggan has long queried Jay’s 1,400 figure as too high.
Another clue is supplied by the report of one of my sources interviewed by Gaggan. He passed on to her the comments of a prominent member of Rotherham’s Pakistani community linking the grooming scandal to the prevalence and social acceptability of child marriage in Pakistan.
My source was slapped down by the (white) woman supervising Gaggan who told him that child marriage was unacceptable in Pakistani culture.
This eagerness to dismiss any cultural explanation of the proliferation of Mirpuri heritage rape gangs suggest that the BBC’s house ideology of Multiculturalism may be the driving force behind Look North’s intent to “get” Jayne Senior.
If one holds it to be self evident that all cultures are equal it must be tempting to explain an apparent explosion in gang rape by perpetrators from one community either in terms of under reporting of similar trends in other communities or else in terms of an exaggeration of the problem amongst the community in question.
The former might be an avenue worth exploring. The latter is, in Rotherham’s circumstances, a cul de sac of atrocity denial is that Look North seem curiously determined to explore.
The source who passed on the comments about child marriage was told at one point by Gaggan’s supervisor that the BBC “know, nothing” about Rotherham’s CSE problem a claim amply confirmed in her own case by her refusal to believe that former deputy council leader Jahangir Akhtar had been named in court as a rapist and protector of child rapists.
Here one might think was a lead offering red meat aplenty to an investigative journalist. Instead the information, which could have been verified by a quick search via Google, was disregarded without investigation.
This was a theme that cropped up in the accounts of all my sources. At a time when, by their own account, they knew nothing, Gaggan and her team had already decided what their investigation would find.
Information tending to exonerate Ms Senior and Risky Business or to support Jay’s conclusions was simply dismissed out of hand.
Such agenda driven journalism would be unexceptional on the part the Mail or the Guardian, organs with no legal responsibility to impartiality.
When practiced by a public service broadcaster licence fee payers are entitled to ask why their money is being spent on attacking whistle blowers rather than investigating the perpetrators.
My understanding is that the planned programme has been shelved but not yet abandoned.
A survivor invited to comment branded Look North’s attempt to discredit Risky Business “a disgrace” saying “Risky Business was our lifeline.”