Gaggan Sabherwal and the Look North investigation into Jayne Senior

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.”

Giles Humphry

27 thoughts on “Gaggan Sabherwal and the Look North investigation into Jayne Senior

  1. So was there any truth in what these survivors was accusing Mrs senior off or was it all to get their feet under table in council and get attention off Ian Thomas


  2. Thanks Giles
    This is sadly interesting.
    The battle of the books, the ongoing court case (back in court early march I understand), and now this.
    Whilst I have never met Ms Senior, I have profound respect for her.

    As far as the numbers are concerned – thy are all purely informal estimates, aka snapshots, – the best the people could do at the time and with the time they had available – and as far as I know no qualified statistician has ever seriously looked at them to give them some more detailed context.
    The only figures I would ever use for anything, are in the document that Adele Gladman provided to one of the parliamentary committees.
    Welcome to the world of alt-truth !



    • Thank you. What were Gladman’s figures do you know? I take it they referred to the earlier part of Jay’s period?
      I don’t buy all this post truth talk btw. Anyone who has read Orwell on reportage of the Spanish civil war (as I’m sure you have) knows there have always been rival tribes with incompatible narratives calling each other liars. I think the Internet actually makes it easier to falsify claims. I admit Trump is a terrible liar but I don’t blame the net for that.


      • “I admit Trump is a terrible liar ” he is.
        ” but I don’t blame the net for that” – neither do I – it is a medium. not a message.
        … and how could I when London UC’s Andy Hinchley, Peter Kerstein and Adrian Stokes are all old friends and colleagues of mine.

        I’ll dig out Ms Gladman’s figures tomorrow – they are really just a small but seemingly valid sampling.
        Somewhere I did see a serious and potentially valid criticism of Jay’s analysis from a statistician but I doubt if I could find it again. … and my own Stats background is in a totally different field.
        … and I just have no idea where the quoted Senior and Jay figures actually derived from.
        Do you?


        • With respect to the Risky Business figures they are based on the number of case files they had, one for each girl. This stood at 1697 until they found some more that had got lost bringing it over 1700. All but a handful fell into the category of “sexual exploitation by groups and gangs”.These were not given to Jay (they expected a cover up). Jayne Senior just told Jay the figure was high. Jay had to make her own estimate based on the other evidence she had. So I’m not sure how the 1,400 figure was arrived at. But unless the Risky Business staff (not just Jayne) are lying or somehow accidentally double counting I think we can accept Jay’s estimate that her figure was conservative.


        • A bonus stat. Over 400 perpetrators were identified though here there may be double counting due to multiple nicknames etc.


  3. It will be a surprise to few here that the BBC ‘news’ agenda follows strict political dogma. Ms Senior is unfortunately receiving the treatment predicted by some commenters on this site. A serious independent thorn in the side of the BBC/Labour/Police/local authority and national establishment axis was preferably silenced by adopting then isolating. Hopefully Ms Senior has learned from the second lesson what should have learned from her first. I believe that the BBC has the luxury of having an editorial opinion but should objectively report both sides, or all, of the debate. Subtle foregrounding and framing techniques and calculated omissions in the reporting of narrative subjects has been honed to a fine art by the practically unchallengeable commissars of our state broadcaster. Look North’s cheery feature driven content masks a ruthless and relentless dedication to its political affiliations and aims .Anyone who does not fit into its vision of acceptable political or social pigeon holes is ‘dealt with’ .


  4. This article illustrates ongoing traits this side of the double-decker road. Trashing a genuine source, ignoring evidence, simply not going to where the evidence can be found, embarking on a ‘journalistic’ campaign with a pre-set agenda rather than an open mind, support the Deny and Lie tactic of the errant institution, abuse of publicity trust as a favour to friends . . . and so on


  5. Cllr Senior, has never made public who it was who “broke in” to the offices of Risky Business. As the person in charge she must have known. Strange no report to the police was made when records went missing. After all that happened, stranger still, is that she is now in the very same camp of those who were “not fit for purpose”.
    Until she comes clean, there will always be the question, “was she rewarded for keeping quite” ?.
    I believe there is still loads to come out over CSE.


    • We have been over this. Apart from the Risky Business staff keys the key holders were Kerry Byrne and Christine Broadhurst Brown. Brown ruled the theft should not be reported. Draw your own conclusions.


    • October 2014
      Rotherham Council managers under investigation over stolen files claim
      Allegations were made to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee that Christine Broadhurst-Brown, who is the council’s head of integrated youth support services and Kerry Byrne, a partnership and youth development manager, were among ‘very few’ people who had access to the office of a council researcher who was investigating the activities of grooming gangs.
      The researcher said when her and Ms Senior had discovered the files had been taken over the course of the weekend, with no sign of forced entry, Christine Broadhurst-Brown had suggested there was no need to call the police about the matter ‘because it hadn’t been a break in’.
      The committee said a draft report written by the researcher in 2002 while she was based in the offices of the Risky Business child sexual exploitation project at the Rotherham International Centre had contained ‘severe criticisms’ of organisations responsible for tackling the issue.
      oh btw
      Rotherham Council chief executive Martin Kimber is currently carrying out an internal investigation into the missing files.


  6. Whatever happens to Councillor Senior, she’ll have brought it upon herself. Surely she of all peoples, would have know, that she would be a target for various parties, tarnished by her activities. Bringing her into the fold and pretending to make her welcome, was designed to spilt her away from the girls and others. Surely, even she, with all her experience of these people, would’ve been suspicious of all her new found friends. The very same who did everything to dismiss and marginalise her before.

    The biggest tradegy, is the lost of trust and respect, the girls would have for her. Why didn’t her friend Champion, advise her againist her joining the Labour Party. When she sits in a room with all her so called colleagues, doesn’t she ask herself, how many of them knew and why didn’t they do something to stop this abuse?


  7. Didn’t she run that seminar in 2005 that Jay said all who attended could not say they didn’t know
    So if that is so she knows exactly who knew and kept quiet I asked that very question in the Council chamber on Wednesday when I asked if she would like to comment she shook her head ?? Now it looks like she has been silenced


    • For A – Reg and B – Caven:
      A – Reg: Facts have been given, and it is for the readers to decide for themselves what conclusion they may wish to make, and it is therefore unfortunate that someone would stoop to having a jibe at others as the only way to stifle debate where full and fair consideration must be given to all the facts, leaving the reader with the impression that whoever is doing the attacking is trying, and failing, to distract attention from the unPleasant truth and defending the unPleasantness. Sharing of facts is a neutral act and not evidence to justify publicly demeaning someone by inferring that they are a conspiracy theorist. Please be Pleasant and make positive contributions without trying to tear down those with whom you do not agree or who share information with which you find uncomfortable – actions which readers might conclude is indicative of you defending the referenced organisation and / or you are acting on behalf of a political party. The readers of these pages deserve both better and respect.
      B – Caven: You have referred to a meeting at which all attendees would have learned about the CSE at a seminar in 2005. The attendee list of that seminar is public information, and as such must be disclosed following a Request for Information as proscribed by the Freedom of Information Act. Should there be a response of “Information Not Held”, or any other kind of refusal or obfuscation, then such could be interpreted as a cover-up by the public authority and a possible criminal offence under Section 77 of the Act. Good luck – let’s see that attendee list !


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  9. Pleasant
    I did name two of the seminar attendees in the chamber and told reed that these two had addmitted knowing from the seminar but was told to keep it quiet at a questioning in the council after the jay report
    The list of attendees to that seminar is in the public domain it has been posted on RothPole and printed in the advertiser


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