The council that told a rapist he had a right to see the child he fathered in the Rotherham grooming scandal has today been slammed by a former chief prosecutor.
Nazir Afzal questioned the South Yorkshire council’s move to inform serial sex offender Arshid Hussain of court proceedings at which his victim, Sammy Woodhouse, was present.
Miss Woodhouse, 33, is campaigning to change the law after her rapist was told he had access rights to to her child after the council said it was simply following the law.
But Mr Afzal today today said that she shouldn’t even have to do that – and that the council could simply have applied to the Family Court for the right to inform Hussain, who is serving 35 years for raping nine victims.
‘They could’ve done this without a change in the law – they could’ve done this using their common sense,’ he told Good Morning Britain. ‘Clearly there was tremendous opportunity here to prevent this harm occurring and they chose not to do it.’
Sammy Woodhouse told Good Morning Britain this morning of her mortification at the rapist being allowed access to her child
Arshid Hussain was jailed for 35 years after being convicted of raping Ms Woodhouse and assaulting young girls. He was shot in the stomach in 2005 and now uses a wheelchair
Sammy Woodhouse was raped as a teenager and gave birth to her son aged fifteen – but the baby’s father was only jailed in 2016
Mr Afzal prosecuted the Rochdale grooming gang in Greater Manchester and his central role was brought to life by Ace Bhatti in the BBC One series Three Girls.
His remarks echo those previously made by a Government spokesman, who said: ‘Existing court rules are very clear that applicants in care proceedings should only ever notify people who have parental responsibility for the child.’
Linzi Williams (pictured) spoke out in defence of Sammy Woodhouse. The pair were both raped by Arshid Hussain
Rotherham Council yesterday revealed it is consulting with the Ministry of Justice on whether it should have contacted Hussain, who is serving 35 years in prison for multiple rape offences against nine victims – some as young as 11.
Last night a second victim impregnated by the rapist said it was ‘absolutely disgusting’ that he was told he had access rights.
Linzi Williams spoke out in defence of Miss Woodhouse, who waived her right to anonymity after she was left ‘scared and angry’ by South Yorkshire town’s council ruling.
Ms Williams, who Arshid Hussain also impregnated when she was 15, said: ‘I am speechless that this would be allowed to happen.
‘Social services supposed to protect children and people from paedophiles and rapists not give them contact.
‘It’s just another massive betrayal by social services how are people supposed to start trusting in them when they do something as stupid as this?’
Hussain, 43, was the ringleader of the notorious grooming gang and was not named on Miss Woodhouse’s son’s birth certificate. He had no parental responsibility for the child, who was born after his mother was raped, aged just 15.
Ms Williams was impregnated by Hussain when she was just 15-years-old
Ms Williams has spoken previously about the abuse she suffered at the hands Hussain and the depraved sex gang operating in the Yorkshire town.
She told Channel 4 of the agonising decision she had to make about whether to keep the baby, and admitted she still sees girls that she instantly knows are living the same horror she had to.
She said: ‘It was torture, I couldn’t tell anyone I was pregnant because he was older. I think I told a couple of friends, but one minute I was wanting to keep it because I thought “oh he’s going to be with me and everything’s going to be fine” – obviously it wouldn’t have been.’
She added: ‘We know it’s still happening. You drive down the town centre road and you see the men in their cars with the girls.’
‘It’s hard to trust anybody or get close to anyone. I’ve got attachments problems, not just with relationships, but everyone else in your lives. It does get better, though.
‘We’ve had to support each other through court and everything.
‘We’ve had it easier because I’ve been able to speak to her and she fully understands.
‘If I can’t explain myself right, she knows what I’m trying to say and how it feels, and the same vice versa.’
Miss Woodhouse is now fighting to have the law changed to deny rapists access to children they fathered in depraved attacks.
‘As a rape victim I’m constantly told he’s got his human rights,’ she told BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday. ‘What about my human rights? My main issue is I have to fight every single day for something just to be treated like a human being.’
She said Rotherham council should have opposed taking the step to give Hussain access to her child.
‘They should’ve fought for that child,’ she said. ‘What they’ve done is hand my son over on a plate to a rapist.’
‘I was completely shocked and mortified,’ she said. ‘I thought when I testified in court and he was sentence to 35 years I thought that was it, I can move on.
‘Yet here I am within 12 months later knowing at any moment he could walk through that door.
‘This is happening all over the country and it needs to stop. Children are being removed, being given to rapists, to murderers, for their families to have access – rape victims are having to go to support centres to share access.’
Hussain, who is of Pakistani origin, opted not to get involved with the boy.
But the South Yorkshire council’s decision to contact him was criticised as ‘perverse’ and ‘ridiculous’ by victims’ charities and campaigners.