An investigation by the Sunday Mirror has revealed Britain’s worst ever grooming scandal, which saw authorities paralysed for 40 years by fears of “racism” accusations as grooming gangs victimised up to a thousand girls in Telford.
The left-leaning newspaper claims its 18-month investigation found “abuse on unprecedented levels”, with three women being killed when abuser Azhar Ali Mehmood burned down their home with them inside and two others dying in connection with the scandal.
Social workers reportedly knew of the abuse, which saw girls as young as 11 targeted, from the 1990s, but police took ten years to launch an investigation and the authorities failed to keep tabs on suspects and perpetrators from the South Asian community fearing “racism” accusations.
Victims told the Sunday Mirror that the abuse — which is said to have begun in the 1980s — carries on to this day, and notes that police failed to investigate one recent case five times before a Member of Parliament directly intervened.
The newspaper claims to have uncovered previously unseen files showing council staff chose to view girls being abused, trafficked, and even sold as “prostitutes” rather than victims.
Telford is a relatively small city, with a population of 170,000, making this scandal the most extensive and long-running in the country.
The number of victims in Rotherham was slightly higher at 1,500, but Rotherham is a significantly larger city with a population of around 260,000.
“I hated what was happening and my abusers made my skin crawl but I was told that if I said a word to anyone they’d come for my little sisters and tell my mum I was a prostitute,” said one 14-year-old victim, whose phone number had been sold to paedophiles.
“Night after night, I was forced to have sex with multiple men in disgusting takeaways and filthy houses.
“I must have been getting the morning after pill from a local clinic at least twice a week but no one asked any questions.
“I fell pregnant twice and had two abortions. Hours after my second termination, I was taken by one of my abusers to be raped by more men.
“The worst moment came just after my 16th birthday when I was drugged and gang-raped by five men.
“Days later, the ringleader turned up at my house and told me he’d burn it down if I breathed a word of what had happened.”
The Sunday Mirror cites victims as saying police and social workers repeatedly turned them away or failed to offer “emotional support”, and the authorities actively attempted to hamper their investigation.
Local MP Lucy Allan described the newspaper’s findings as “extremely serious and shocking” and has demanded a full public inquiry.
Specialist child abuse solicitor Dino Nocivelli, of Bolt Burdon Kemp, told the newspaper: “These children were treated as sexual commodities by men who inflicted despicable acts of abuse.
“The survivors deserve an inquiry. They need to know how abuse took place for so long and why so many perpetrators have never been brought to justice.”
But police and council staff have previously written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP to discourage this, saying it is not necessary.