The report from Professor Alexis Jay found that at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been subjected to the most terrible sexual exploitation – rape, beatings, intimidaton – between 1997 and 2013. The Labour Council leader from 2000 to 2003 was Mark Edgell. He now has a job with the Local Government Association as a Principal Advisor.

The Local Govenment Association justify this as follows:

“Mr Edgell is not and has never been an adviser on child protection matters. The LGA employs specifically qualified staff to advise on these matters.

“Mr Edgell was appointed in September 2003 initially as Regional Adviser by the IDeA, and subsequently as a Principal Advisor by the LGA. His main duties are to liaise with Councils in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands to offer them support.

“At the time of the publication of the Jay Report, which dealt with CSE in Rotherham over the period from 1997 to 2013, the LGA sought and was given assurances from Rotherham Council who in turn obtained assurances from Professor Jay that Mr Edgell was not in any way implicated in CSE in Rotherham. Mr Edgell has categorically stated that he had no knowledge of CSE in Rotherham and that he was unaware of the Home Office research “pilot” in 2001/2.

“The Jay Report contains no specific findings about Mr Edgell or that he had knowledge of whether he was personally at fault, whether by action or inaction. Instead it actually states on page 114 that: “The Leader of the Council, from 2000 to 2003, agreed that the culture overall was ‘macho’ and sexist. He referred specifically to three members accessing adult pornography on council computers, which he had to deal with. He also referred to the bullying behaviour of some members towards the then Chief Executive, probably because he and the Chief Executive were attempting to improve and modernise a council which was underperforming, which had a very traditional culture, which was ‘slow to change’ and which had come to the attention of inspectors and government (albeit mainly for school buildings rather than children’s safeguarding).”

“Having referred to presentations on CSE “first” (Para 13.44 page 110) made to Councillors in 2004-2005 (i.e. after Mr Edgell’s period on the Council) the Report fixes on 2005 as the date by which Councillors generally must have known (Para 13.45 page 110 and Chapter 13 summary at p101) about CSE as an issue in Rotherham. Mr Edgell left the Council in 2003 and there is no finding that he must have known about CSE as an issue in Rotherham during his period of office.

“The Audit Commission’s Annual letter to Rotherham Council in 2003 states “Mark Edgell, who has recently departed the Council… [has] been instrumental in generating a lot of current momentum for change in Rotherham. The Authority should seek to ensure the pace of improvement is maintained.”

“The recent Casey investigation makes no reference to Mark Edgell at all. However she does reinforce the point of 2004/5 being the time of which Councillors should have been aware i.e. after Mr Edgell had left the Council.”

Does anybody find that justification remotely convincing?

The Jay Report said:

“Over the first twelve years covered by this Inquiry, the collective failures of political and officer leadership were blatant. From the beginning, there was growing evidence that child sexual exploitation was a serious problem in Rotherham. This came from those working in residential care and from youth workers who knew the young people well.”

Any pretence that the council leader for three years during that period was in some way exempt from that condemnation is absurd.

Yet again the LGA is defending the indefensible. Councils should cease using Council Taxpayers money to pay membership subscriptions to it.