Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham sex exploitation teenage victim is pregnant

Birmingham Council House
Image caption Birmingham City Council had launched civil court proceedings against 10 men

A teenage sexual exploitation victim - whom 10 men were banned from contacting last month - is pregnant, a judge's ruling has revealed.

High Court judge Mr Justice Keehan lifted a reporting ban, despite objections from lawyers for the 17-year-old and Birmingham City Council.

They had argued publicising her pregnancy would increase her distress.

But lawyers for a press agency argued the public should know the possible consequences of exploitation.

News that the girl was expecting a baby had emerged during High Court hearings.

'Freedom of expression'

Mr Justice Keehan, who has banned media from identifying the teenager, had also barred reporting of the pregnancy.

But the ban was lifted at a High Court hearing in London on Monday after the judge heard legal submissions from lawyers representing the girl, the council and the Press Association.

Lawyers for the girl and council argued the pregnancy was a personal matter and its revelation would increase the girl's distress and might raise the risk of her being identified.

But the news agency said reporting her pregnancy would not significantly increase the distress she had already suffered, nor risk revealing her identity.

Mr Justice Keehan said the decision centred on a difficult balance between the girl's human rights and the media's right to freedom of expression.

But he doubted revealing the pregnancy would significantly increase the girl's distress or the risk of her being identified, he said.

He concluded the public should be aware that she had become pregnant as a result of the being sexually exploited.

'Father' named

The teenager had said Sarfraz Riaz, 32, one of the men made a subject of a stay-away order last month, was the father of her unborn child.

The judge said Riaz, who has denied the baby is his, denied sexually exploiting the girl or having intercourse with her.

He said: "(The girl) may be wrong in identifying him as the father of her unborn child but her assertion, at a time when she was supportive of him, indicates that they had had sexual intercourse.

"On the totality of the evidence I find they so did and that Sarfraz Riaz is lying when he denies the same."

The judge said Riaz was currently serving a prison sentence for a sexual assault, which does not relate to the teenager, and he maintains his innocence in relation to this offence.

He has 14 criminal convictions for offences including burglary, racially aggravated assault and drug crimes, Mr Justice Keehan said.

The judge said when in her early teens the teenager had placed herself in situations of "grave risk" and had been seen getting in and out of cars "in the company of adult Asian males".

Mr Riaz and eight other men were revealed as the subjects of civil injunction banning them from contacting under-18s, brought against them by Birmingham City Council.

He had made orders against Mohammed Anjam, Omar Ahmed, Naseem Khan, Mohammed Javed, Shah Alam, Sajid Hussain, Rahman Aziz, Imran Uddin, Mansur Ahmed and Sarfraz Riaz.

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