Rotherham Labour councillors facing ‘deselection’ amid abuse gangs scandal

Rotherham council

Rotherham Labour councillors facing ‘deselection’ amid abuse gangs scandal

Lynne Cameron
Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters


Published: 05/10/2023

- 20:51

Updated: 05/10/2023

- 20:55

Potential ‘clearing out’ of veteran Labour figures comes after GB News investigation into 2005 seminar about town’s rape tragedy

Three Rotherham Labour councillors associated with the negative press surrounding the town’s sex abuse gangs scandal are facing deselection ahead of next year’s local elections, according to sources familiar with the situation.

They may include Dominic Beck, a cabinet member who stood down as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rother Valley last year.


Beck stood down after this broadcaster drew attention to his position in the Rotherham cabinet that resigned in 2015 after an independent report from Louise Casey found that the council was “in denial” over the town’s rape gangs scandal.

Multiple sources close to Rotherham’s Labour group, including former councillors, told GB News that the party’s head office in London had intervened to commence the process to deselect several councillors.

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One source close to the Labour group told this broadcaster that the local candidates had failed interviews for reselection.

They said: “London Labour are stopping sitting councillors from being able to stand again, any that have been associated with the CSE scandal are not allowed to stand again.”

They added that Beck was appealing the decision.

At this week’s full council meeting, Beck declined to give a report from his Wales ward, passing the responsibility over to Cllr Marnie Havard, which opposition leader Simon Ball said was “highly unusual.”

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South Yorkshire Police

South Yorkshire Police launched its first investigation into Rotherham grooming gangs in 2008

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The Tory councillor added: “Have you ever not had a councillor talk about their own ward when given the chance to promote it?”

Havard appeared emotional as she gave her summary on the ward and reportedly left the council chamber soon after, consoled by colleagues.

Three other Labour councillors are reportedly voluntarily standing down: Sue Ellis, Rose McNeeley and Ken Wyatt.

Sources claim that Alan Atkin wanted to stand again in his ward but failed his reselection interview.

\u200bDominic Beck

Dominic Beck has stood down as the Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Rother Valley

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Reports of the candidacy changes come after this broadcaster investigated allegations that councillors who attended a 2005 seminar about the town’s sex abuse scandal “knew and stayed silent” about the extent of the crisis, which was detailed in “explicit detail”, according to an expert who delivered the talk.

Of the 30 councillors who attended the meeting at Rotherham Council, four still remain in office for the Labour Party. They are: Ken Wyatt, Rose McNeely, Sue Ellis and Alan Atkin.

At the time, the councillors said they did not act on the information due to police pressure and because they did not want to interrupt live criminal investigations.

When asked why Atkin failed to chase the police for details on their supposed investigation into rape gangs, the councillor told GB News last year that he “was getting on with the rest of my life. I was just getting on with things.”

When contacted last month about reports of his potential deselection, Atkin did not deny the situation but told GB News that “the procedure hasn’t finished yet.”

McNeeley told GB News that she was voluntarily standing down next year in order to “spend more time with [her] family.”

Sue Ellis stood down from her role on her local parish council earlier this year but remains a serving councillor in Rotherham. A former Labour councillor said that Ellis would not be standing in next year’s elections.

Ellis did not respond to our request for comment.

Wyatt did not respond when asked by GB News if he was standing down at next year’s election.

A local source said “besides the 2005 seminar, Ken has been an excellent councillor and he is treasured in the community, but it seems that Labour’s head office wants to clean up its act and remove any links to its failures to deal with the grooming gangs scandal.”

A survivor from the Rotherham abuse scandal said it was “about time” that these councillors stood down.

Elizabeth, not her real name, told GB News: “These councillors failed to speak up about child abuse in Rotherham when they were told explicitly about it. They let us down. Nothing can fix their failures from that horrifying period, but it’s great to see that Labour is finally cleaning up its act in Rotherham but clearing out these councillors.”

She added: “It’s about time that the rot disappeared, but it just goes to show that they could have done this when the 2014 Jay report was released, exposing their failures and the 2005 seminar.

“It’s offensive to every single one of us that suffered that it’s taken them this long.”

Rother Valley MP Alex Stafford told GB News: “No one who had any involvement what so ever in the Rotherham Child abuse scandal, including in the cover up or downplaying of its effects, should ever hold public office again.”

The Conservative added: “It is disgraceful that so many Rotherham Labour councillors have clung on for so long and only now, belatedly, is Labour realising the constant pain and suffering these individuals are having on survivors.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Under Keir’s leadership, the Labour Party has robust due diligence processes so that candidates are of the highest calibre.”

Dominic Beck did not respond to our request for comment.

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