A Rotherham grooming victim has said she believes details about her abuse were wrongly used in a review of her sister’s murder.
Sarah Wilson claims information about her being a victim of child sexual exploitation was ‘mixed up’ with files about her sister Laura Wilson, who was murdered in 2010 in what has been described as ‘Britain’s first white honour killing’.
Sarah said she does not consider her sister to have been a victim of grooming and says some of the incidents referred to in the Serious Case Review into Laura’s death were actually things that happened to her.
She is now due to work with lawyers to go through the 148-page report to identify areas where errors seem to have been made.
Sarah, aged 23, said the issue is one of the main reasons she has written a new book, called ‘Violated’, about her experiences of being a victim of abuse, as well as the circumstances of Laura’s murder.
She said: “Laura was never groomed ever. But with the Serious Case Review into her death, they put my files in and made it look like my sister was groomed.
“That is why I came out full throttle. I want to get it put right.”
The Serious Case Review was produced by the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board in May 2012 in an attempt to ‘learn lessons’ from the murder of 17-year-old Laura, who was killed by her Asian boyfriend Ashtiaq Ashgar in 2010 after she told his family about their secret relationship.
Laura began her relationship with Ashgar in 2008, when she was 15 and he was 16.
The review was originally published with key passages redacted from the text.
But an uncensored version of the report was made public after being leaked, which revealed certain adults had been suspected of targeting her from the age of 11.
That also claimed that Laura had been referred to an child sexual exploitation project just three months after her 11th birthday.
But Sarah said it was ‘definitely’ herself who was referred to the CSE project at 11 rather than Laura.
She said she now wants lawyers to go through the report in full with her to identify other potential areas where mistakes may have been made.
Sarah said: “I was reading it and I thought that is about me. My life had been put on top of Laura’s.”
She said the family had met with then children’s services director Joyce Thacker about the issue. Sarah claims Ms Thacker had apologised and said she ‘didn’t know how it had happened’.
Sarah said she hopes for a written apology should her allegations be verified.
A spokesperson for Rotherham Council said representatives from the Safeguarding Board would be willing to speak with her about the issue.
“Since this Serious Case Review was produced in May 2012, there have been changes in key personnel including both the Independent Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and the Strategic Director,” she said.
“However, the LSCB would be happy to consider any representations that Ms Wilson wishes to make.”
Sarah’s harrowing book has made national headlines after revealing how she was groomed from the age of 11 and trafficked around the country to be abused by gangs of Asian men.
She said her mother gave the police her phone with 177 numbers of men believed to be involved in her abuse in 2003 – only for her to be told by police that data protection issues meant they could do nothing with the information.
She said they were further failures by child protection services in the town to follow up on what was happening to her.
“They told my mum it was against their human rights,” she said.
“In 2006, they had 13 strategy meetings about me in 12 months and no minutes were recorded.
“It is absolutely horrendous.”
Sarah was also one of the Rotherham abuse survivors and family members who confronted former Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright in a public meeting at Rotherham Town Hall weeks after the Jay report revealed at least 1,400 children in the town had been victims was published.
At that stage, Mr Wright, who had previously been a councillor in charge of children’s services at Rotherham between 2005 and 2010, was refusing to resign.
But a few days after facing angry victims, including Sarah, who demanded his resignation, he finally stepped down from his post.
Sarah said: “It felt so good to be able to say what I wanted to say for years. He wouldn’t even look at me – he knew he was in the wrong.
“Up until that day, he swore blind he wasn’t going to resign.”
She said does believe things are improving under new commissioner Alan Billings and said at the time of her abuse there was little understanding of child sexual exploitation from the police.
Sarah said: “They have seen it as out fault. They thought we kept going back so we must have wanted it. They were looking the other way.
“But there was a misunderstanding as well of what CSE was.”
She said that the publication of the Jay report had almost come as a ‘relief’.
“It was like I wasn’t the only person to have gone through this. As bad as it sounds it is a bit of a relief people could relate to what had happened.
“The number was a shock at first but then after I thought about it you think ‘and what about the rest?’.
“It is still ongoing. It is ongoing everywhere but it is still happening in Rotherham.”
Sarah, who has recently had a child, said she intends to give police a statement about her abusers in the future.
She said the reaction to the book has been positive and she is now working with other CSE survivors to help provide training to police and other professionals on spotting grooming signs.
Sarah said: “My family are all really proud of me and supporting me. At the end of the day, this needs to be out there.
“I hope maybe people can learn from my experiences.
“The reaction to the book has been amazing.”
She said her message to other survivors is that they can get through the trauma of being abused.
“You don’t have to be a victim forever.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, it is about finding the right people to help,” she said.
n Violated: a shocking and harrowing survival story from the notorious Rotherham scandal by Sarah Wilson is published by Harper Element in paperback and eBook, http://amzn.to/1NtPIyZ