MPs call for urgent investigation into Rotherham abuse cover-up claims

The allegations come after the Jay report found at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited between 1997 and 2003. Credit: PA Wire

MPs are calling for an urgent investigation following claims a person stole files detailing the failures in tackling child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

A report by the Home Affairs Committee said a former researcher, employed by Rotherham Borough Council, claimed someone gained access to her office and stole the files that were set to be passed to the Home Office.

It comes after a report by Professor Alexis Jay found at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2003.

Committee chair Keith Vaz said the Home Office needed to do "everything in its power" to locate any missing files in its possession relating to the crime, adding that a "full, transparent and urgent" inquiry was needed.

Mr Vaz said: "The proliferation of revelations about files which can no longer be located gives rise to public suspicion of a deliberate cover-up.

"The only way to address these concerns is with a full, transparent and urgent investigation.

"The Home Office must do everything in its power to locate any missing files in its possession relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and other places."

The researcher was employed by Rotherham Council between 2000 and 2002 to research ways to tackle prostitution.

In April 2002, she submitted a draft report which was heavily critical of agencies in Rotherham to the Home Office.

She alleged senior managers showed "indifference" towards child sexual exploitation.

It is claimed an unknown person accessed her office and removed all data relating to her report.

There were no signs of forced entry, with someone able to move through key-coded and locked security doors.

The Jay report sparked a series of high-profile resignations, including Rotherham's strategic director of children's services, Joyce Thacker, and South Yorkshire police commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the councillor with responsibility for children's services between 2005 and 2010.