Ann Cryer wept when she heard the news last week. "It reduced me to tears, reading all that went on in Rotherham," she said.
"The really sad aspect of it is that many of these girls could have been spared. If only I had known what was going on in Rotherham, I would have had a better understanding of the widespread nature of the problem. Instead, I simply thought it was a purely local issue that emanated from Keighley … If I'd known, I could have said, 'We need a national policy on this.' I was on [the Labour party's national executive] at the time, so I would have been in a good position to press for that. But no one talked about it."
In 2002, when she was Labour MP for Keighley, Cryer became the first public figure in Britain to talk out about allegations of "young Asian lads" grooming underage white girls in the West Yorkshire town. As a result, she was shunned by elements of her party, a panic button was installed in her house and Nick Griffin stood against her for the far-right British National party (BNP), claiming that she was not doing enough to protect young white girls.