By Kris Jepson
Exclusive: The brother of one of the men convicted under Operation Shelter has told ITV News Tyne Tees that he was not part of the grooming gang and should have been tried individually.
Due to fears of reprisals we protected the brother’s identity and called him ‘Ali’.
Watch @krisjepson’s exclusive report here:
It was in Newcastle’s Westend that Ali’s brother was first linked to the grooming gang, but he claims the connection was only made to “strengthen” the police case.
He says his brother was told he would face “no further action” because of a lack of evidence when he was first arrested. He says that was years before the Operation Shelter grooming investigation ever began.
Condemns brother’s crime
Ali accepts that his brother’s actions were wrong and illegal, but he claims that his brother was not aware he was breaking the law, because he says the victim “lied about her age”.
Ali described some of the abuse and harassment he and his family have suffered since his brother was named as one of the defendants in the media coverage of Operation Shelter, and its umbrella investigation, Operation Sanctuary.
He said it has made his life in Newcastle difficult and brought “shame” on his family. He is actively looking to relocate to protect his family.
Ali says he is sceptical over police tactics after it was revealed during the trial that Northumbria Police paid the informant XY, a convicted child rapist, nearly £10,000 as part of its grooming investigation.
This leaves him with doubts that all of the 17 convicted men are actually guilty.
Judge Penny Moreland rejected XY’s evidence during the trial, describing it as "inherently unreliable" and Northumbria Police said they instructed him to find out “where and when” the parties were taking place and “never to attend them”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission also found no misconduct in the force’s handling of XY.
Ali said his brother is now serving his time in prison and hopes he will “listen and understand” what he has done wrong and never do it again.
He accepts his brother and the other men should have been "more responsible" in their actions and should have “respected the girls”.
As Ali now looks at rebuilding his own life, he could only offer an apology to his brother’s victim and her family.