Miliband regrets horrific betrayal of children by Labour Council

Tuesday 17th February 2015 13:25 EST

The Opposition leader Ed Miliband has reportedly talked about his deep regret about the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, where the Labour council failed the victims by not taking right actions.

Mr Miliband was responding to a question about the events in Rotherham when he spoke to an audience of mainly students at Sheffield Hallam University students union.

Last year the Jay Report found that at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited by gangs of men, mostly of Muslim origin, some Pakistanis, in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013. It was critical about failures by both the police and the local council to tackle the problem.

A young woman who said she was Amy, from Rotherham, reportedly asked the leader of the Opposition: "How can my generation trust your party to ensure child safety at a national level when a Labour council in Rotherham couldn't even cope and how can we prevent future atrocities occurring?"

Mr Miliband reportedly said: "It was terrible what happened in Rotherham.

"And lots and lots of young people were terribly let down, including by Labour representatives.

"I deeply regret that that happened and we've got to learn the lessons of it.

"We've got to learn the lessons of it as a party - and we've taken some action in terms of some of the people who were there at the time.

"We've got to learn the lessons also as a country because these aren't just failings that were in Rotherham, they were failings right across many, many walks of life."

Mr Miliband also said he hoped the planned national inquiry into child abuse would give victims a chance to tell their stories.

He said: "I couldn't be clearer about the sense of regret I feel about what happened in Rotherham and that a Labour council didn't do the right things and didn't take the action that was necessary."

The scandal which began with Professor Alexis Jay's report in August led to a range of resignations.

Labour has suspended four councillors and a party inquiry is currently going on. Louise Casey is leading an inquiry into the council's actions, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating police officers' actions, and the National Crime Agency is now investigating the exploitation.

However, the former leader of Rotherham Council has agreed to break his silence on his handling of the child sexual exploitation scandal and answer questions by MPs on the Department for Local Government and Communities select committee. Mr Stone resigned as leader of Rotherham Council on the day the Jay report was published in August and has not spoken publicly since.

A select committee spokeswoman said Mr Stone is likely to appear to answer questions next month.

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