Barrister Michael Mansfield QC has backed a People’s Inquiry into the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
A report published in August estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in the town between 1997 and 2013.
The People’s Inquiry is part of a trade union campaign calling for justice for the victims and opposing racism.
The racist English Defence League (EDL) and others seized on the report to claim that Asian men were targeting white girls.
The trade union campaign was launched at a public meeting organised by Rotherham Trade Union Council last month.
Phil Turner is an NUJ union member who works in Rotherham. He said the EDL was “cynically exploiting the scandal to whip up racism and division”.
But he added, “The vast majority of people are sick and tired of racists and fascists descending on us.”
Oppose racist EDL march
The EDL plans to march in Rotherham on Saturday of this week. It previously held a camp outside Rotherham police station, claiming to be demanding justice for the abuse victims.
Campaigners in the town refuse to let the EDL pose as defenders of abuse victims, and are staging a counter-protest.
Kira and Ashley are among many local people who are furious. “We’re meant to be a multicultural country,” Kira said. “I’m multicultural myself—I’ve got Jamaican and German relatives.”
Ashley added, “I just refused to come into town last time the EDL marched. I was worried I might lamp one of them.”
Asssemble 11am, Rotherham town centre