TOday we can finally report the sickening details of how more than a dozen vulnerable girls in Huddersfield, some as young as 11 or 12, were cynically abused over a seven-year period for the perverted sexual gratification of their abusers.
More importantly we can tell you that the monsters behind such unimaginable acts, are behind bars.
These poor girls have had to relive the horrific details of what happened to them, several times through the investigation and court process. At the time the girls were between 11 and 17. They were carefully chosen as being vulnerable to grooming. They were quickly isolated from their families and friends - families were threatened, homes smashed, and threats of more harm or damage made.
This grooming gang in Huddersfield is the second largest gang of men to be brought to justice for these type of crimes.
It requires a huge resource to investigate, careful, painful, tricky questioning of the girls to gather the evidence and hours of court time. Our court reporter Tony Gardner has been covering these cases alongside one or two other local reporters from the beginning. It is what we do on papers like this.
We also abide by the court rules. When a judge says we cannot report a case until the end of the trial there are good reasons why. In this case it was because there were so many defendants accused of being in the same sex abuse ring, they could not be heard in the same trial. If we had reported on the first trial then jurors may have been swayed in the second trial - a defence lawyer would argue that their clients could not get a fair hearing.
It could have meant the whole trial could have collapsed.
At best it may have meant the girls having to go through the whole thing again - at worst a judge may have had to rule that they could not get a fair trial and those girls would NEVER have seen the men brought to justice for what they did to them. And that’s why newspapers like this abide by the rules of reporting restictions.
It was during these hearings that Tommy Robinson, former EDL leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon decided to broadcast outside Leeds Crown Court. For this he was put in contempt of court, and eventually jailed, then freed on appeal. It led to protests on the streets, it led to all sorts of abusive messages and allegations against our reporters and this newspaper - some believed we were “covering up” this abuse by not reporting it.
Now you know the truth.
It is not because we were “scared” to report this because it was crimes by Asian men on white girls. This is key to this case, and the Rochdale case, and the Keighley cases and we will not shy away from asking why this is happening time and again, particularly in the north.
What Tommy Robinson did was put Tommy Robinson first, what we have done throughout is put the victims first.