Rotherham council building. Photo: Flickr/Chris
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Rotherham Council leader stands down as report finds 1400 children exploited over 16 years

The leader of Rotherham Council, Roger Stone, is standing down, as a report finds a "collective failure" by both the police and the local council to stop the abuse of children in the area.

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council, has announced that he is to step down with immediate effect.

He is resigning due to the findings of an investigation into widespread child sex abuse in the area, which found that there has been "appalling" exploitation of at least 1400 children in Rotherham over a 16-year period and condemned the police and local council's "collective failure" to stop the abuse. Such widespread failings of the authorities to care for its young and vulnerable has made Stone's position untenable.

Here are some lines from his statement of resignation:

I think it is only right that I, as leader, take responsibility on behalf of the council for the historic failings that are so clearly described in the report...

Like any right-minded person, I am disgusted by child sexual exploitation and abhor the lifelong damage that it wreaks upon the lives of all those affected by it. It is a matter of great regret for me, as it is for many others, that so many people have been traumatised by child sexual exploitation here in Rotherham.

The report is highly critical of the council and its failure over nearly a decade to stop the abuse. You can read the full report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham here.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.