Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

'It's my worst nightmare...': Mother demands law change after 'rapist invited by council to play role in child’s life'

A campaigner and survivor of the Rotherham child exploitation scandal has called for a law change amid claims that the father of her child, who raped her as a teenager, was invited by a council to play a role in her child’s life.

Arshid Hussain, who was jailed for 35 years in 2016 after being convicted of 23 child sex offences, was told by Rotherham Council that he could seek visits from the child, The Times claims.

The newspaper reports Hussain, the child’s father, was listed as a “respondent” in a Family Court case involving the child, and was therefore contacted by the local authority, who promised to keep him informed of all future proceedings.

The Times said that, during a hearing last year, the child’s mother was told that the convicted sex offender would be allowed to attend court and make legal representations.

Miss Woodhouse told ITV News: "It's my worst nightmare... will I ever be able to get rid of him? Is he always going to be there?"

"It's so hard to put into words what Rotherham Council has done. The fact that he wasn't even the one asking to see him, Rotherham Council have done this off their own accord.

"There's women all over this country that have had their children removed, they've been raised by the men that raped them and their families."

The story had initially been anonymised, but Sammy Woodhouse, a victim of the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal, revealed on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that it is her child.

In a video which has been viewed over 200,000 times, she said: "This story is about myself, about my son, about the man that raped me, and about the fact that Rotherham Council have offered him to apply for parental rights for my child."

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Miss Woodhouse was one of the key witnesses in South Yorkshire Police's Operation Clover investigation which led to several Rotherham men being given lengthy jail sentences in 2016, including Arshid Hussain and his three brothers.

She subsequently waived her anonymity and now speaks widely about child sexual exploitation and has written a book about her experiences.

The campaigner revealed on Tuesday that she and Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, are calling on the Government to change the 1989 Children's Act to “ensure rapists can't gain access to children conceived through rape and abuse”.

Louise Haigh is calling on a change to the 1989 Children's Act. Credit: PA

A Rotherham Council spokesman said that it could not disclose information relating to proceedings hearing in the Family Court, adding: “Like all councils we must comply with legal requirements, including Practice Directions, and that would include giving notice of proceedings to parents with or without formal parental responsibility.

"Often and understandably, cases before the Family Court are emotive and arouse strong feelings amongst those affected.

“We do understand that the legal requirements can cause upset to those involved and so we welcome a debate around this issue, which applies across England and Wales.”

A Ministry of Justice statement said: “This is obviously a very distressing incident and the relevant departments and local authority will work urgently to understand and address the failings in this case.

”Local authorities can apply to courts to request permission not to notify parents without parental responsibility about care proceedings, and courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision.“

An NSPCC spokeswoman added: "We need to understand if this is a one-off failure or a system-wide problem that needs to be addressed, so no other survivor and their child have to go through the same trauma."