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Operation Shelter: 'My brother wasn’t part of grooming gang'

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.

He never had any connection with the gang, other than work phone calls from his boss. They should have dealt with him by himself, not with the rest of them. My brother has got a Muslim name. The more people they could get who had a Muslim name, the more hate there would be for the Muslim religion.

– 'Ali', brother of Operation Shelter Convict
Brother of Operation Shelter convict Credit: ITV News

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”.

Absolutely I condemn it! If he’s done something wrong, he should get punishment for that. 100 per cent I agree to that. My brother is a married man, he shouldn’t have even thought about talking to another girl or picking up another girl, even chilling with another girl. Drinking, smoking, that’s against our religion. He said he asked her how old she was and she said she was 18, so he didn’t know that she was anything below 18. The way she was dressed, the way she had done herself up, he said she didn’t look anything under 18 years old.

– 'Ali', brother of Operation Shelter Convict

Hidden victims

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.

Before I used to walk with my head up. Now I’m walking with my head down, because of the way people look at me. It’s definitely brought shame on my family. The way people used to see me before, they now don’t see me like that anymore. Now they see me as a rapist’s brother. People are calling me names, they’ve chased us. I have to park at another car park and then ring my Mrs to open the door so I can sneakily get in, avoiding the abuse. People have been jumping on my car, they've slashed my tyres and thrown stones at my car. My car window's been smashed and my girlfriend’s door has been kicked in.

– 'Ali', brother of Operation Shelter Convict

Informant XY

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.

XY set them up. He was getting paid by the police. The police was telling him what to do and he was doing it. Taking girls in, planting drugs, then he went, then the police came in and arrested the lads for drugs and grooming.

– 'Ali', brother of Operation Shelter Convict

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.

Apology

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.

Newcastle's Westend Credit: ITV News

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.

On behalf of my brother I am really sorry.

I’m sorry to their mam’s and dad’s as well, I’m really sorry on behalf of my brother for what you went through and your family.

– 'Ali', brother of Operation Shelter Convict

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