Daughter of councillor linked to Rotherham scandal now helps victims

Daughter of council leader implicated in Rotherham child sex grooming scandal helps run support service for its victims

  • Norsheen Akhtar, 32, runs council-funded projects working with abuse victims
  • Her father is Jahangir Akhtar who quit as the council’s deputy leader in 2013 
  • It followed claims that he helped broker a deal with police involving a relative 

The daughter of a former deputy council leader implicated in the Rotherham child sex grooming scandal is helping run a support service for its victims, it has been revealed.

Norsheen Akhtar, 32, has been given managerial responsibility for child sexual exploitation programmes run by Rotherham Rise.

The charity, which primarily works with female domestic abuse victims, receives most of its funding from Rotherham Council.

Miss Akhtar’s father is Jahangir Akhtar, who quit as deputy leader of the council in 2013 and lost his seat on the council the following year.

His resignation followed claims he helped broker a deal with police involving one of his relatives. 

Norsheen Akhtar (pictured left with then-Mayor of Rotherham Lindsay Pitchley), 32, has been given managerial responsibility for child sexual exploitation programmes run by Rotherham Rise. She is the son of ex-Rotherham deputy council leader Jahangir Akhtar, right

The relative – gang ringleader Arshid ‘Mad Ash’ Hussain – was said to have agreed to hand a missing 14-year-old girl to officers at a petrol station after receiving an assurance that he would not be prosecuted.

Mr Akhtar was also later stripped of his taxi-driver licence after a ‘fit and proper person’ test was introduced by the council.

The 58-year-old lost his seat on the council at elections in 2014 when he was defeated by a UKIP candidate.

The test took into account child sexual exploitation intelligence that would ‘give rise to significant and serious concerns for risks to public safety if the licence remains in place’.

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Miss Akhtar, who still lives with her father in the South Yorkshire town, joined Rise after his resignation, The Times reported last night.

She is now a member of its senior management team and responsible for its counselling service for survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

In her role, she has full access confidential information on the charity’s database, including names and addresses of victims, the newspaper reported.

An independent inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay found an estimated 1,400 Rotherham girls were targeted for sexual abuse by organised gangs of mostly British Pakistani men over 16 years.

Jahangir Akhtar’s resignation followed claims he helped broker a deal with police involving one of his relatives, gang ringleader Arshid Hussain (pictured)

Four brothers who were jailed for a total of 98 years in 2016 after being convicted of 53 child sex offences against 16 girls – Arshid, Basharat, Bannaras and Sageer Hussain – are related to the Akhtars.

Abuse victims helped by Rise voiced concern about the appointment.

One woman, who was helped by the charity along with her sister, and who gave evidence against the Hussain brothers, said: ‘I’m staggered that the charity and council didn’t recognise that putting Jahangir Akhtar’s daughter in that role would create a potential conflict of interest.’

‘What sort of a signal does that send out to CSE survivors? How are we supposed to have any confidence that the authorities in Rotherham have learnt from the past?’

The woman said Miss Akhtar’s work for the charity could have given her access to information about girls and women who were groomed and sexually exploited by one or more of her relatives or their associates.

Rise is believed to have informed Rotherham council of Miss Akhtar’s appointment but the local authority is thought to have reported no concerns.

There is also no suggestion that Ms Akhtar has in any way behaved inappropriately or unprofessionally.

Funding for Rotherham Rise’s work to help child sexual exploitation victims has included council contracts and grants totalling more than £440,000.

Jahangir Akhtar, pictured with ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, lost his seat on the council at elections in 2014 when he was defeated by a UKIP candidate

Miss Akhtar’s previous roles have included working as a tenancy support worker for another Rotherham charity, Rush House, which provides accommodation services for young people.

Her father has always denied any wrongdoing or misconduct linked to the grooming scandal and has never been charged with any offence related to child sexual exploitation. He has a criminal conviction for affray for his role in a violent brawl outside a restaurant.

The incident also led to convictions for two of his brothers and one of his sons.

Sue Wynne, chief executive of Rotherham Rise, said: ‘All of our staff are bound by professional conduct codes to declare any personal connection to, or interest in any individual case. They are also bound by a professional duty of confidentiality not to discuss cases or client details outside of work.’

She declined to answer questions about Miss Akhtar but added staff were subject to ‘ongoing internal supervision and performance management’.

Jon Stonehouse, director for children’s services at Rotherham Council, said the ‘appointment, employment and management of individual members of staff within the contract is a matter for Rotherham Rise’.

But he added: ‘However, in these circumstances we will be looking at the due diligence undertaken.’

Miss Akhtar nor her father could be reached for comment last night. 

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