Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Courage That Was Rewarded Only with Ingratitude

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Courage That Was Rewarded Only with Ingratitude

Article excerpt

Byline: DENISE ROBERTSON COLUMNIST

AYOUTH service manager has now unmasked herself as the whistleblower who provided the information which brought the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal into the open.

She handed over more than 200 restricted access documents to an investigative reporter in an attempt to force authorities to act.

Senior staff and police officers had repeatedly dismissed her evidence of systematic abuse of teenage girls. "It was all ignored", she says. "Noone was fighting for these kids anymore. Nobody was trying to stop the horrors."

Eventually, she turned to that last guardian of freedom, the press. The resultant newspaper coverage led to a report which revealed that at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Were the council grateful that the truth had emerged at last? On the contrary, they unsuccessfully sought a criminal enquiry into the identity of the whistleblower. A police superintendent on the Safeguarding Children Board called the whistleblower 'disloyal' and 'exploitative'.

Without the courage of one woman and the power of the press that abuse might well be continuing.

I often hear from people who allege they have witnessed the gravest misconduct while at work. Sometimes they have reported it to the usual channels without effect. I had one such letter last week and the allegations it contains are grave.

The Whistleblowers' Line is there if they are still working at the site of the abuse. If not, there are the usual channels but if they close their ears, what next? If all else fails, the press will be there. And if allegations are true, it will act.

LAST week a national newspaper asked me to contribute to an article on whether or not God is a woman.

I declined on the grounds that I didn't think it mattered a row of beans what sex the Supreme Being was and wouldn't it be better to turn attention to the tide of misery presently engulfing the world? When the article appeared there was no shortage of people ready to point out how much better things would be if She was in charge instead of Him, though most of them spoke with tongue in cheek.

Later that day, God's sex was discussed on BBC radio news. The participants were enthusiastic about their subject but it followed an item on parents mourning the lost ashes of their dead babies and a report on children being tortured and executed by IS.

Set in that context, it was difficult to summon up any interest in whether or not we should put an S in front of HE in the liturgy.

THENS is not the magnificent city it used to be.

AOne report speaks of scores of shops closed down, banks with shutters covered in angry graffiti and chaos on the roads since traffic lights were destroyed in riots.

Pawnbrokers are among the few places thriving, as families sell off jewellery and heirlooms. …

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