Deputy leader of Rotherham Council Coun Jahangir Akhtar stepped down last night amid claims the authority failed to protect four women as children from sexual abuse by ‘predatory men’.
In a statement yesterday evening the borough council said: “The council can confirm Coun Jahangir Akhtar has stepped down from his role as Deputy Leader of Rotherham Council, and as Vice Chair of the Police and Crime Panel.
“The council has referred allegations made in a national newspaper relating to Coun Akhtar to South Yorkshire Police, to consider if any criminal offence has been committed and to undertake any appropriate criminal investigation.”
Mr Akhtar said his resignation was ‘temporary’.
“I am standing down temporarily as Deputy Leader of the council and as Vice-Chairman of the Police and Crime Panel as a matter of courtesy to those agencies to resolve any enquiry as quickly as possible,” he said.
Four women have said they may take legal action against Rotherham Council – on the same day a national newspaper printed allegations a 14-year-old girl was allowed extensive contact with a violent adult offender suspected of grooming young girls for sex while she was in the care of Rotherham social services.
The offender is a relative of 52-year-old Mr Akhtar.
South Yorkshire solicitors Switalskis said a number of women had instructed its lawyers to sue Rotherham Council for ‘systemic failures to protect them from sexual abuse by predatory men when they were children’.
South Yorkshire Police said the force would not be commenting on the allegations in the national press which were the subject of an ‘active investigation’.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said: “The allegations made about the way in which various agencies failed to adequately combat child sexual exploitation and protect vulnerable victims 14 years ago concern me deeply.
“The approach taken today is vastly improved and my determination is to ensure the approach now being taken in responding to allegations of such crimes is consummately professional. I will be seeking assurances that all allegations are thoroughly investigated, victims fully supported, and this process underpinned by the most robust and thorough processes.”