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A survivor of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal has criticised the Conservative Party for asking an MP found guilty this month of molesting a teenage boy to review a Home Office research paper on child sexual exploitation.
Sammy Woodhouse said she was “disgusted” that she was put in the position of working with Imran Ahmad Khan on an expert panel while he was under police investigation.
Khan, 48, was found guilty earlier this month of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old in 2008 before he was elected as the Tory MP for Wakefield.
He reportedly attended several online meetings of sexual exploitation experts in 2020 and peer-reviewed a research paper entitled “Group-based child sexual exploitation characteristics of offending”.
I am disgusted to have been put in a position where I was working with a man later convicted for child sexual assault
Campaigner Sammy Woodhouse
The victim, now 29, told a court he contacted the Conservative Party press office days before the December 2019 general election to tell them what Khan had done to him, and made a complaint to police days after the poll.
In early 2020, Khan was sent a questionnaire by Staffordshire Police to address allegations he had assaulted a minor, which he denied.
Ms Woodhouse, who was targeted, groomed and abused as a teenager in Rotherham, said on Wednesday: “This was important work that I undertook in good faith, but I am disgusted to have been put in a position where I was working with a man later convicted for child sexual assault.
“Knowing now that the Conservatives had already received complaints from a victim about this man, it is gut-wrenching for me as a survivor that they could possibly have allowed him to be considered for this role.”
A Home Office spokesperson said that neither Home Secretary Priti Patel nor the Home Office were aware of the allegations against Khan before they became public last year, and that he never directly advised the department on policy related to child sexual exploitation.
“In his role as an MP, Mr Khan was asked along with several others to peer-review a Home Office research paper.
“The Home Office was not aware of the allegations against him at the time and he no longer has any involvement with the department.”
Labour MP Louise Haigh has demanded that Ms Patel and the Prime Minister reveal what the Tory Party knew about the reports of child sexual abuse against Khan.
“Khan’s victim told the Conservatives about sickening sexual abuse and they did nothing, and then shamefully appointed him to sit alongside survivors of child sexual exploitation.
“How could they possibly have put victims in this position?
“The Tories have serious questions to answer over how they gave this criminal free rein to exploit his position and victims of abuse.”
Boris Johnson rebuffed a question at Prime Minister’s Questions on whether he was “ashamed” his party did not take the victim’s claims seriously, referring to the statement issued by the Home Office.
Khan was thrown out of the Conservative Party following the verdict at Southwark Crown Court on April 11.
He said he would resign from his Westminster seat, but has yet to formally do so.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “It’s obviously the right decision for him to resign.”
The court heard how Khan, a gay Muslim, forced the then-teenager to drink gin and tonic, dragged him upstairs, pushed him on to a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire in 2008.