'Three Girls’ Sara Rowbotham Appears On Channel 4's 'First Dates'
| Last updated
Sexual health worker, Sara Rowbotham, whose fight to win justice for sexually exploited girls in Rochdale inspired BBC drama Three Girls, appeared on First Dates on Tuesday night.
In an emotional episode, which saw Sara open up about her ordeal and fight for justice, she was matched up with a woman called Nicky.
Watch here appearance on the show here...
Over a meal, Sara told her date: "I was really involved with my work in social services.
"It was all-encompassing, it was child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.
"Children told me that they were being sexually abused and trying to get other people to do anything about it was really difficult.
"It went on for almost 10 years before anyone did anything about it."
Sara wept over her sense of frustration, anger, and relief that the girls' story has finally been recognised, having made it her mission to provide a voice for them.
"I feel like I'm coming out of a difficult dark time," she said. "I was a big fireball at the time, I became really angry all the time.
"[But] I'm ready to start my life again, and be able to have nice times, and not be so stressed or anxious or angry."
Although the couple decided not to continue dating, they did say they would remain friends.
The sad and sick story of how a group of men from Rochdale groomed girls as young as 14, and passed them around for sex, has recently been explored in a three-part BBC drama called Three Girls.
On 8 May 2012, nine men were convicted following charges of sex trafficking and other sinister offences. They were Shabir Ahmed (64), Mohammed Sajid (40), Mohammed Amin (50), Abdul Qayyum (49), Hamid Safi (27), Adil Khan (47), Abdul Rauf (48) and Kabeer Hassan (30).
The first two are the only ones who still remain behind bars: Ahmed was jailed for 22 years, while Sajid got 12.
The eight man, not including Ahmed. Credit: PA
Amin, Qayyum and Safi all got five years or less and have since been released, while the latter four were believed to have been released after reaching the halfway point of their sentences.
Timeline of the Rochdale Grooming Scandal
- August 2008 - Police are called to a report of a 15-year-old girl smashing up a takeaway in Heywood. She is arrested.
- August 2008 - That girl tells interviewers how she has been beaten and raped by the men but no charges are brought by July 2009 when a CPS lawyer rules that the victim was 'not credible'.
- May 2010 - Operation Span is launched after new complaints. DC Maggie Oliver is tasked with convincing victims to speak with police.
- June 2011 - Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal authorises the charging of 10 men.
- May 2012 - Nine men are on trial at Liverpool Crown Court. Police apologise for their poor handling of the case.
- June 2012 - Shabir Ahmed is named as the 'vile mastermind'.
- May 2013 - a 136-page report into Child Sexual Exploitation Issues At Rochdale Council is published. It found that the council 'did not appear to be interested in children's social care issues'.
64-year-old Shabir Ahmed, known by the girls as 'Daddy', now faces deportation to Pakistan.
Actor Simon Nagra plays Ahmed in the BBC drama. Credit: BBC
Back in February, in a publicly-funded court case, the ringleader Ahmed, plus three other defendants, Khan, Rauf and Aziz, lost their appeals against a move by the then-Home Secretary Theresa May to strip them of their British citizenship.
It's now left the door open for them to be booted out of the UK and serve the rest of their sentences in the country of their birth.
However, it is expected they will mount yet another legal challenge, and have permission to take their cases to the Court Of Appeal.
Ahmed has previously tried, and failed, to overturn his convictions at a European court, arguing his trial was unfair because the jury were white.
A Home Office spokesman said: "All four men have been granted permission to appeal at the Court Of Appeal and it would be inappropriate to comment further on ongoing legal proceedings."
The government has pledged to remove foreign prisoners to their homelands, and last year 5,810 of them were repatriated. UK nationals born outside the UK are entitled to remain, however, unless their citizenship is removed.
The law firm which represents the four men is now under investigation by a legal watchdog over allegations of stalling tactics.