Rotherham abuse: Whistleblower investigation 'examined'

Jayne Senior
Image caption Jayne Senior was a key figure in exposing the extent of child sexual abuse taking place in Rotherham

The handling of an investigation into the woman who first revealed the child sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham is to be examined, the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned.

Jayne Senior has been investigated by Rotherham Council for a year, after a number of complaints.

It is understood the Local Government Ombudsman has now said it will look into her treatment.

Rotherham Council said it had a duty to ensure complaints were considered.

As a charity worker helping exploited teenagers, Mrs Senior helped reveal a pattern in the town that saw children groomed, raped and tortured by groups of men for more than a decade.

The extent of the abuse was exposed three years ago in a report by Prof Alexis Jay, which said more than 1,400 children had been abused, with the police and council failing to act.

Huge strain

Mrs Senior now works for a local charity called Swinton Lock. But for the past year has found herself under investigation by Rotherham Council.

She is accused of making money from media appearances and of sharing information inappropriately, which she denies.

It follows a complaint by some abuse victims, but Mrs Senior says she was given detailed allegations only last week, after the BBC contacted the council.

"I do not receive money from doing interviews," she says.

"The only interview I received a small amount of money for, [it] has gone to Swinton Lock.

"I don't and have not done this for money.

"Somebody told them I was earning a significant amount of money. Well, I'm not."

Speaking about it for the first time, to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, she says it has been a huge strain.

"Here we are nearly three years on, and I feel more vilified than some of the perpetrators in Rotherham," she says.

'Attack on character'

Michael Fowler, a former detective who is on the management committee of the charity, said he had seen murder inquiries wrapped up in less time.

"They've done a lot of damage in that time, and they've been very inactive in that time," he said.

"It is just appalling the way we've been treated.

"We are a small charity, we are not major criminals.

"We have policies and procedures here to deal with allegations.

"They've deliberately bypassed those, even when we've asked them to stop.

"It just seems they want to attack Jayne's character and discredit the work she has done as a whistleblower."

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman - which is to assess the treatment of Mrs Senior - looks at complaints about councils, social care providers and some other organisations in England.

It is the final stage of complaints against councils.

A spokesman for Rotherham Council said it had received a number of complaints relating to Mrs Senior and the charity.

"We have a duty of care to ensure all complaints are robustly and fairly considered, in line with our complaints process.

"Independent investigators were appointed to review these complaints.

"This is ongoing, and, as such, we are unable to comment further at this stage."

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

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