National child abuse inquiry refused to probe Yorkshire Muslim grooming gangs
The national inquiry into child abuse was 'scared of being called racist' and refused to investigate some of England's most notorious sex-grooming scandals, it has been revealed.
Key witnesses were also barred from giving evidence, victims and experts in the inquiry have claimed, amid accusations of 'cowardly' reluctance to examine mass offending in Rotherham and Rochdale.
Sammy Woodhouse, a victim in Rotherham, claimed the heads of the inquiry 'have not placed survivors at the forefront' of their investigations, and are 'selective in what they decide to look at,'
'If you are going to get to the root of gang-related child sexual exploitation you need to go right to the heart of it,' she added. 'They are trying to bury what happened in places like Rotherham and Rochdale because they're scared of being called racist.'
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) began in 2015 and has so far cost £143 million. It is trying to establish why there was an 'institutional failure to protect children' from abuse.
In its investigation into exploitation of children by 'organised networks', the inquiry has looked at the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, investigating many of the worst-known scandals involving such organisations.
The organised networks arm on the inquiry was also expected to examine the most infamous cases of group grooming and exploitation.
Groups of predominantly Muslim men in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, Leicester, High Wycombe, Dewsbury, Peterborough, Halifax, Newcastle upon Tyne, Telford and Burnley have been prosecuted since 2011 for sex-grooming.
From late September, the IICSA held two weeks of public hearings for its 'organised networks' investigation, with the final day for closing submissions set to take place on October 29.
However, it decided not to hear evidence from survivors or those with knowledge of the crime pattern, and instead chose to select six areas of England and Wales - St Helens, Tower Hamlets in east London, Swansea, Durham, Bristol and Warwickshire.
The reason given was that these areas 'represent a range of sizes, demographics and institutional practices', but none of the six areas has witnessed a major prosecution of a south Asian sex-grooming gang.