Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan refused to call for the resignation of South Yorkshire Police Commissioner and former head of Rotherham Council Children's Services Shaun Wright in a Sky News interview last week, despite being asked ten times by interviewer Eamonn Holmes whether Wright should go.
Khan used the five-minute interview to say Barnardo’s was “horrified and shocked” by the report that exposed years of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, and that it was “unacceptable” that various agencies may have known what was happening but failed to take action.
However, he stopped short of joining the chorus of voices demanding Wright’s resignation. When asked by Holmes whether the police commissioner should step down from his current post as a result of his role in the scandal, Khan said he expected Wright would be “doing some deep thinking” but that it was not for him to say whether he should keep his job or not.
Holmes accused Khan of “sitting on the fence” and asked him whether he too was failing the 1,400 victims by not taking a stand.
Khan responded that the important thing was to look to the future and to learn the lessons of the past. “What we are interested in is how we help these children rebuild their lives,” he said.
Last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg added his voice to the calls for Wright to go, but he is continuing to resist the pressure.
On Friday Barnardo's issued a statement comdemning the failures that allowed the crimes in Rotherham to continue and warning that the atrocities that have been rooted out so far are merely the tip of the iceberg.
"Child sexual exploitation is not an issue isolated to any one area, culture or community. We have specialist child sexual exploitation services in 35 locations across the UK and every service we have opened has quickly become oversubscribed," it said.
The charity called for "strong and fearless leadership" to tackle the problem.