Rotherham council bosses seek injunctions to keep men away from teenager

Rotherham council bosses seek injunctions to keep men away from teenager

A High Court judge is set to analyse evidence at a trial after social services staff asked for help protecting a vulnerable teenage girl they say is being sexually exploited by four men.

Lawyers representing council bosses in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, want a judge to order the men to stay away from the youngster.

They say a trial is due to be staged in the Family Division of the High Court in the near future.

Mr Justice MacDonald examined pre-trial issues in the case at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Thursday.

He said none of the people involved could be identified in any media report until a trial judge had been given an opportunity to fully consider evidence and legal argument.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council bosses said they were taking legal action last month.

Their move came nearly two years after a High Court judge made orders barring 10 men from the Birmingham area from approaching another teenage girl.

Police had said there was insufficient evidence to secure criminal convictions against the Birmingham men.

In late 2014 Mr Justice Keehan imposed injunctions barring the men from contacting the teenager, and from approaching girls they did not know, following applications by Birmingham City Council.

He had concluded that the men had sexually exploited the teenage girl - who was in Birmingham council care - following hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in Birmingham and London.

The judge also ruled that the 10 men, who could be jailed for being in contempt of court if they are found to have breached the orders, could be identified in media reports.

He said the teenage girl could not be identified.

Mr Justice Keehan said Birmingham council lawyers had taken 'bold and novel'' civil court action.

Lawyers representing Rotherham council now want a judge to impose similar restrictions on the four men.

Rotherham hit the headlines two years ago after concerns were raised about youngsters being sexually exploited in the area.

In August 2014 a report said around 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 and said in more than a third of those cases youngsters were already known to agencies.

The report, written by an academic following an inquiry, said there had been ''blatant'' collective failures by council leaders.

Barrister Rebecca Foulkes, who is leading Rotherham council's legal team, has outlined details of the council's application at preliminary hearings.

She said social services staff had responsibility for the teenage girl's welfare.

She said council bosses wanted a judge to make ''injunctive orders'' against the four men.

She said the girl's parents backed the council's application.

Judges have also heard submissions from lawyers representing South Yorkshire Police, and the teenage girl.

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