English Defence League urged to scrap Keighley sex grooming demo
The Telegraph & Argus | Wednesday, 25 July 2012 | Click here for original article
Businesses and community leaders have been put on alert after police confirmed the far-right English Defence League (EDL) plans a demonstration in Keighley .
The EDL’s Yorkshire Division claims it will be joined by other groups from outside the region in a “peaceful demonstration” against allegations of the sexual grooming of white girls by Asian men.
The demonstration announcement yesterday follows ten arrests across Bradford district – the majority in Keighley – of men suspected of grooming a 14-year-old girl.
Chief Superintendent Ian Kennedy, Airedale and North Bradford divisional commander for West Yorkshire Police, said: “We have received confirmation from the English Defence League that they plan to come to Keighley on the afternoon of Saturday, August 4. We are preparing contingency plans for policing the event to ensure that it does not adversely impact on local communities and businesses.”
Community leaders in Keighley, as well as the town’s former MP, were last night united in a plea to cancel the demonstration.
Former MP Ann Cryer, who stood against BNP leader Nick Griffin in the 2005 general election, said: “Most people who care about Keighley and the people who live there – both Asian and white – would ask them not to come. They are not going to do any good. In fact, they are going to do a great deal of harm.”
Mrs Cryer previously spoke out against sexual exploitation on behalf of the victims of a grooming gang in Keighley, which led to a change in the law to make grooming for sex a criminal offence.
New rules were also introduced which allowed parents to give “hearsay” evidence in court about what their daughters had said.
Mrs Cryer said: “It took a great deal of effort on my part and the part of the victims’ mothers to get either the police or social services to take action, but action was taken.
“What will not help is a demonstration by the EDL, of a racist nature. What they have to realise is that there are thousands of young Asian men in Keighley who would never dream of grooming young girls.”
Bradford Councillor Khadim Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central) said: “These people are outsiders who have no interest in Keighley at all. They are only coming into Keighley to fuel unrest and animosity among the communities who are living peacefully together.”
Paul Meszaros, Bradford’s spokesman for anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, urged the EDL and opposition groups to stay away from Keighley on August 4.
He said: “When Hope not Hate first encountered the issue of grooming, we knew it was not about race but about child protection. That is still the case.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “I am aware that an EDL event in Keighley is likely in the coming weeks and have been in contact with Chief Superintendent Ian Kennedy to discuss the matter.”