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UK: Nine men jailed in racially charged sex ring case

The men, all of South Asian descent, were found to have lured girls as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. Far-right parties protested outside the court

Abdul Qayyum was found guilty of conspiracy
Abdul Qayyum was found guilty of conspiracy
Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

NINE MEN IN the northwest England were sentenced to jail terms today for luring girls as young as 13 years old into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs.

It was a case that has stirred racial tensions and sparked claims that authorities are failing to protect vulnerable children in state care.

Judge Gerald Clifton said the men, aged between 22 and 59 and all of Pakistani or Afghan origin, were driven by “lust and greed,” and sentenced them for crimes including trafficking and rape.

The 59-year-old ringleader of the group received 19 years in jail, while his co-accused received between four and 12 years.

Because all the defendants were South Asian — from countries such as Pakistan and India — and all the victims white, the case has been seized upon by far-right groups, who protested outside the trial in Liverpool.

More measured voices have pointed out that the majority of sex crimes in Britain are committed by white men.

But some say there is a specific problem in northern English communities, where a toxic combination of alienated men and vulnerable, unsupervised girls has allowed exploitation to flourish.

Twenty-six men were arrested in the investigation, which identified 47 potential victims. Eleven men were charged and nine convicted of charges including rape, assault, sex trafficking and conspiracy.

Martin Narey, former chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, said men of South Asian descent were “overwhelmingly represented in prosecutions” for sexual exploitation offences in some northern English towns such as Rochdale, 170 miles from London.

‘A real problem’

“That is not to condemn a whole community. Most Asians would absolutely abhor what we have seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial, and I don’t think this is about white girls,” he told the BBC.

“It’s sadly because vulnerable girls on the street at night are generally white rather than more strictly parented Asian girls, but there is a real problem here.”

The men abused the girls in taxis, kebab shops and apartments. They used various defences, including claiming the girls were prostitutes. Several said they did not know the age of consent in Britain, which is 16.

British police and the Crown Prosecution Service have apologised for delays in investigating the case. One of the victims first spoke out in 2008, but prosecutors failed to press charges amid concerns that a jury might have questioned the girl’s credibility.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating why that decision was made. The trial at Liverpool Crown Court was a tense affair marred by allegations of intimidation.

Far-right groups such as the English Defense League and the British National Party led protests shortly after the trial began 6 February, and two non-white defence lawyers quit the case, saying they had been threatened.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of moderate Muslim think-tank the Ramadhan Foundation, said the trial had exposed a real problem that should not be ignored out of fear it would galvanise racists.

“We’ve got to reclaim the agenda from the BNP,” he said. “Race is a contributing factor and police have to confront it.

“We obviously have a problem with some Pakistani men, criminals, who engage in this behavior believing that white girls are worthless and they can use and abuse them in this way.”

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Associated Press

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