Shamed former Rotherham children’s services boss Joyce Thacker received a £40,000 pay-off to quit her post, The Star can reveal today.
The revelation comes as Mrs Thacker is among key figures in the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal singled out for criticism in a new report published today.
A Freedom of Information request by The Star reveals Mrs Thacker agreed the five-figure sum as a pay-off for leaving her £130,000 per year job with immediate effect last month.
She was criticised in Home Affairs Select Committee report which has also called for an independent investigation to be launched by the Home Office.
It says the probe should focus on whether there was a ‘deliberate cover-up’ after files relating to the town’s child sexual exploitation problems were stolen from the office of a council researcher in 2002.
MPs on the committee – which called for Mrs Thacker to resign a week before she left – also concluded South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council had ‘ignored numerous credible warnings about the scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham’.
Furious abuse victims today said Mrs Thacker should donate her pay-off to the Rotherham Women’s Counselling Service.
A spokesman for Rotherham Council said: “The council reached mutual agreement on the early termination of Mrs Thacker’s contract of employment. The agreement was for payment of £40,000, which was less than the contractual notice entitlement.”
Mrs Thacker had faced repeated calls to resign or be sacked in the wake of the Jay Report, which revealed at least 1,400 children in had been sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013. She was signed off on sick leave in the days before her departure.
At the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing the week before she left, Mrs Thacker said she would not be standing down as she had worked ‘tirelessly’ to tackle the issue of child abuse in Rotherham.
She told MPs: “I am not stepping aside, for the simple reason I am accountable to the people and the children and families in Rotherham.
“I could have done more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I don’t accept there was a full dereliction of my duty.”
But committee chairman Keith Vaz said the MPs did not accept her evidence and believed she should resign ‘as a matter of conscience’.
Mrs Thacker has been head of children’s services since 2008 and was deputy head for two years.
One child abuse victim, now 29, today said Mrs Thacker should donate her pay-off to charity.
Jessica – not her real name – was abused between the ages of 14 and 16 by a man in his 20s, with repeated pleas for help from her parents to the police and council ignored.
She said: “The fact these people get a payout at all absolutely disgusts me. It is shocking. She should donate the money.”
The committee report said there were still ‘questions to be answered’ despite the resignations of Mrs Thacker, police commissioner Shaun Wright, and council chief executive Martin Kimber.
It said: “There is compelling evidence that both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police ignored numerous credible warnings about the scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
“It is hard to resist the conclusion that, if the council and police had taken these warnings seriously, the abusers could have been brought to justice more quickly and some of the later victims could have been spared their ordeal.”
Mr Vaz added: “It is vital children’s services are dramatically improved to prevent a similar situation happening again. Rotherham deserves a fresh start. Public officials must be held to account for their failure to act.”