From guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 January 2011 10.51 GMTA David Batty and agencies
A row has broken out after the former home secretary Jack Straw said some British Pakistani men regard white girls as "easy meat" for sexual abuse.
The Blackburn MP spoke out after two Asian men who raped and sexually assaulted girls in Derby were given indefinite jail terms.
Straw said there was a "specific problem" in some areas of the country where Pakistani men "target vulnerable young white girls".
His comments were criticised by Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, who said it was wrong to "stereotype a whole community".
Yesterday Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed at Nottingham crown court after being found guilty at a trial in November of charges including rape.
The judge in the case said he did not believe the crimes were "racially aggravated", adding that the race of the victims and their abusers was "coincidental".
Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme yesterday, Straw said: "Pakistanis, let's be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders' wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders.
"But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men ... who target vulnerable young white girls.
"We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way."
Straw called on the British Pakistani community to be "more open" about the issue. "These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically," he said.
"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care ... who they think are easy meat.
"And because they're vulnerable they ply them with gifts, they give them drugs, and then of course they're trapped."
Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I disagree with Jack Straw ... I don't think you can stereotype an entire community. What you can do is look at the facts of these national cases, give it to an agency, make a proper investigation and see how we can deal with these networks of people who are involved in this horrendous crime.
"One can accept the evidence that is put before us about patterns of networks but to go that step further is pretty dangerous."
Saddique was jailed for at least 11 years while Liaqat will be locked up for at least eight years. The pair were the ringleaders of a gang that groomed and abused girls aged from 12 to 18.
The sentences were passed down a day after the prime minister, David Cameron, said "cultural sensitivities" should not hinder police action in such cases.
Six other men had already been sentenced for their part in the abuse, investigated in Operation Retriever, led by Derbyshire police.
The Barnardo's chief executive, Martin Narey, said the case was more about vulnerable children of all races who were at risk from abuse. Street grooming was "probably happening in most towns and cities" and was not confined to the Pakistani community.
"I certainly don't think this is a Pakistani thing. My staff would say that there is an over-representation of people from minority ethnic groups – Afghans, people from Arabic nations – but it's not just one nation," said Narey.
Retired detective chief superintendent Max McLean, who led a previous police investigation into sexual exploitation involving the grooming and trafficking of young girls in Leeds, questioned whether it was a cultural problem.
"I'm not suggesting, and I do not think anybody is, that it is a problem within a community," he told the Today programme.
"What I am saying is that, when you take a crime type – street grooming – and see that the vast majority of people convicted are from a particular community, then there appears something we should do about those offenders.
"But that is the very danger, that we say that all street groomers are Asian men. What we have found is that our investigations have led to convictions, generally speaking, for this type of crime.
"That is a slightly different thing and it is incumbent on the police and professionals to engage with communities where we identify those offenders to see if their are preventative opportunities."
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, condemned the crimes and called for the issue to be addressed without prejudice. "No community or faith ever sanctions these evil crimes and to suggest that this is somehow ingrained in the community is deeply offensive."
Well now, isn't this interesting? It would seem that Crafty Jack is bothered about child abuse after all, from reading this article!
Funny that, because from my dealings with Straw I never got that impression at all. For instance, in this letter I wrote to him on 10th January 2008 I gave him a summary of the appalling catalogue of abuse I had suffered from childhood, the initial abuse followed by desperate attempts to cover up cover up and cover up by unlawful malicious vindictive persecution.
The cruel cross examination I mentioned in the letter did take place, and I can only describe the experience as being put onto a rack and tortured. The judge had told me that I would have to be cross examined by the man who raped me for the first day, and the following day that I would have my turn to cross examine him. Day 1 arrived, the rapist, with his wife present, tried to present the case that I had Parental Alienation Syndrome (which was invented by Richard Gardner and American paedophile) and that the pair of them had an agreement that I could have sex with him. I pointed out that I had rights, not to be forced to be his concubine. The rapist tried to accuse me of sending him malicious email, so I asked him to read out the letters that I had sent to him, which he said he had not got. But I did have those letters, and the next day provided those letters, but for some strange reason everyone changed their minds about reading those letters out to the court after all! I suppose the reason for that was because those letters were not malicious at all, but they did contain the horrible truth and that court seemed really reluctant to hear the plain simple truth. The rapist also tried to make me out to be a vengeful spiteful aggressive person. He produced a tape recording of me and my son which completly wiped out his own argument and all the accusations of PAS!
Day 2 arrived and not only did the judge not allow the letters which I had been accused of writing maliciously be read out, but I was also denied to cross examine the rapist and his wife, who had decided for some reason not to accompany her husband. Instead, the judge read out a really long speech he had written himself. So I was denied my say. They might as well have put a dummy of me in the court, it was totally unfair and biased against me.
On leaving, I burst into tears, because of the dreadful stress of the two days in that horrible place. The judge passed me, and said a very strange thing, "I did what I could for you". At the time, I did not understand what he meant, because it seemed a nonsense for him to say that. But now I know exactly what he was trying to say, especially after the Dr David Kelly scandal.
Jack Straw had written to me in the past, pointing out that Government ministers were not allowed to influence in any way court proceedings. I now know that to be exactly what has been going on. Straw has been meddling left right and centre with the judicious process, in case after case after case. My judge was trying to tell me this as he left Wolverhampton Court that day he saw me sobbing.
Jack Straw has also colluded to cover up the Haut de la Garenne child abuse scandal, which has resulted in a thoroughly decent man Senator Stuart Syvret being persecuted, deliberatly criminalised and hounded out of office. Jack Straw also clashed with the noble Lord David Ramsbotham, another good man, who was responsible for improvements to the treatment of women prisoners at Holloway Prison and other prison reforms.
Jack Straw, I accuse you of leaning on judges and politicising court judgements.