South Yorkshire's former police and crime commissioner 'could face criminal investigation'

Shaun Wright.
Shaun Wright.

South Yorkshire's former police and crime commissioner could face a criminal investigation over matters relating to the fallout from the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

The issue centres on claims that Shaun Wright misled MPs about what he knew about the extent of child sexual exploitation in the town when giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2015.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission received a referral from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel in December 2015. But the IPCC sent it back to the panel on the basis that 'misleading a select committee would be a contempt of parliament rather than a criminal offence.'

However, the police watchdog has now accepted they 'misunderstood the extent of Parliamentary immunity' and the Home Affairs Select Committee has now referred the matter back to the Metropolitan Police Service.

An IPCC spokesperson said: "Following recent correspondence received from the Metropolitan Police Service, we have re-reviewed the law relating to evidence given at the Home Affairs Select Committee and believe that this matter does come under our remit, rather than being a contempt of Parliament issue.

"As a result we wrote to the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel to ask them to re-refer the matter for our consideration. We have now received that referral and will make an assessment as to whether the matter requires investigation and if so, by whom.

"It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean that the IPCC will conduct an investigation into the information provided to the committee. In line with our normal procedures, following a referral, we assess the information provided to decide whether or not an investigation is required."

Mr Wright was elected police and crime commissioner in 2012 before resigning two years later. He previously had a five-year spell in charge of children and youth services at Rotherham Council.

A report in 2014 by Professor Alexis Jay estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013 predominantly by men of Pakistani-heritage. It also criticised police and council services for failing to act.