Exclusive: Scandal-hit Rotherham Labour candidate 'selected' by controversial council cabinet ally

Labour leader Keir Starmer facing mounting pressure to intervene in Rotherham row

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Keir Starmer is facing mounting pressure to intervene in Rother Valley, where the constituency Labour Party has selected Cllr. Dominic Beck as its parliamentary candidate for the next general election.

Beck was forced to resign from the Rotherham Borough Council cabinet in 2015 after Dame Louise Casey’s report into the council found that it was in denial over the town’s child sexual exploitation scandal.

But seven years later, the local Labour Party appears to no longer believe that this association is a problem for a career in Westminster.

The resurrection of Beck’s political career after he was forced to resign in the wake of the Casey report is due in no small part to Cllr. Emma Hoddinott, who was made deputy leader of the cabinet when she joined it in 2014.

Both Beck and Hoddinott were appointed to the cabinet after the mass resignations that followed the publishing of the Alexis Jay reported, which confirmed that at least 1,400 girls had been sexually abused in the town from 1997 to 2013.

Cllr. Emma Hoddinott played a key role in the selection process
Cllr. Emma Hoddinott played a key role in the selection process

Hoddinott and Beck were both forced to resign in February 2015 after the Casey report found that the council was deemed not fit for purpose.

When then-Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sent in a team of five commissioners to run the council after the cabinet resigned, he said that the “wholly dysfunctional cabinet” was hampered by a “complete failure of political and officer leadership”.

Pickles added that the Casey report presented “a disturbing picture of a council failing in its duty to protect vulnerable children and young people from harm”.

The Casey report into the council found the institution in denial, failing to admit the scale of the crisis, with 70% of the councillors — including some cabinet members — refusing to accept Jay’s findings.

As members of the council’s leadership team, Beck and Hoddinott take collective responsibility for the attitudes and culture that were pervasive throughout their period of power.

GB News can now reveal that Hoddinott has been instrumental in the selection of Beck, her pre-Casey cabinet colleague, as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rother Valley.

A Tweet sent on December 4 2022 confirms that Hoddinott was on the selection committee for the next parliamentary candidate.

Hoddinott continues to deny any role in the scandal, claiming on her LinkedIn page that she “handed over” her role as deputy leader to the Commissioners when they were brought in after the Casey report in 2015.

The cabinet in fact resigned after the Casey report found that it was “not fit for purpose” and that the council was failing to improve and failing in its duties to protect vulnerable children and young people from harm.

Detailing a culture of bullying, sexism and suppression, the report concluded that “the council is currently incapable of tackling its weaknesses, without a sustained intervention.”

Casey found in her report that the council’s Audit Committee risk register of September 2014 “cited Professor Jay’s report as the second highest risk facing the council.”

The report added: “It is striking that the risk identified focusses not on the problem of CSE [child sexual exploitation] or its victims, but on the potential for ‘major reputation damage and loss of confidence in the borough’ and ‘potential impact on inward investment’.”

Emily Barley, the leader of the opposition at Rotherham Council, told GB News: “Rotherham Labour should have gotten rid of everyone involved in their many failings on CSE a long time ago, but instead have kept them around and in positions of power.

“Given their records and the criticisms contained in the Casey report, Dominic Beck and Emma Hoddinott are not fit for public office. Both should finally do the decent thing and resign from their positions — and if they won't do that then Keir Starmer should intervene. Our women and girls deserve better than this.”

Emma Hoddinott admitted she was part of the selection committee
Emma Hoddinott admitted she was part of the selection committee

Last week, Conservative MP Alex Stafford, the serving MP for Rother Valley, told the Rotherham Advertiser: “I stand with all the victims of the Rotherham child rape scandal.

“Again and again the victims and their families have been let down by the ruling Labour Party in our area, who clearly do not grasp the enormity of this disgusting period of our history.

“No-one who has been involved in, or had knowledge of and failed to speak out against the grooming gang scandal should have any position of authority at any level.

“I raised this issue in Parliament last year and I stand by this.”

A Labour Party spokeswoman told GB News: “We take the findings of the Jay and Casey reports incredibly seriously. The NEC took the necessary action at the time against officials implicated.”