Claims ethnicity not a factor in Rochdale abuse ring are 'fatuous', says Trevor Phillips


Jamie Lewis
Monday 14 May 2012 06:54 BST

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Claims that ethnicity was not relevant in the Rochdale sexual abuse ring case are 'fatuous' according to the head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips.

Both the police and the judge in the case have attempted to play down any racial element to the crimes.

The Judge in the case, Gerald Clifton, summing up last week said, "Some of you, when arrested, said it (the prosecution) was triggered by race. That is nonsense.

"What triggered this prosecution was your lust and greed."

However, Mr Phillips today argued that the fact all of the men were Asian and their victims were white cannot be ignored.

Judge Clifton jailed nine men from between 4 to 19 years after the court heard how they ran a child sexual exploitation ring - which police say could have involved up to 47 girls - with some as young as 13.

The court also heard how the men plied the young girls with drugs and alcohol so they could use them for sex and "pass them around".

Mr Phillips told The Andrew Marr Show: "Anybody who says that the fact that most of the men are Asian and most of the children are white is not relevant - that's just fatuous."

He added that the "closed communities" in which the convicted men lived may have failed to report any grooming because they felt so separated from other communities.

"I worry that in these communities there are people who knew what was going on and didn't say anything, either because they're frightened or because they're so separated from the rest of the communities they think 'Oh, that's just how white people let their children carry on. We don't need to do anything.'"

Former Labour MP Ann Cryer claimed last week that Greater Manchester Police were aware of exploitation claims in 2008, but investigations ended for fear of being branded racist.

Mr Phillips, however, pointed the blame at the schools and social services that he suggested had let down the vulnerable children.

"If anybody in any of the agencies that are supposed to be caring for these children - schools, social services and so on - took the view that being aggressively interventionalist to save these children would lead to the demonisation of some group because of the ethnicity...then it is a national scandal and something that would need to be dealt with urgently," he said.

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