- Gang of Syrians allegedly assaulted two 14-year-old girls in Newcastle
- Three young men have appeared in court and a teenager, 17, was charged
- But even after that Northumbria Police did not announce case to the public
Police were last night accused of burying allegations that a gang of Syrians sexually assaulted two teenage girls in a Newcastle park.
Three young men and a teenage boy, at least one of them a refugee, were arrested last month over claims two 14-year-olds had been attacked in the centre of the city.
But even after the suspects were charged and appeared in court, Northumbria Police – which claims to have made sexual violence a top priority – did not announce the case to the public or press.
Even the local MP only heard about it last week.
Police were last night accused of burying allegations that a gang of Syrians sexually assaulted two teenage girls in a Newcastle park
Last night, it also emerged that the force published more than 100 incidents and public appeals, including those on sexual assaults and indecent exposures, on its website in the same month the alleged attacks took place – but not the case allegedly involving the Syrians.
Other crimes included the theft of 19 prawn pots from a harbour wall and a car being scratched.
Details on the alleged attacks emerged on Friday in a report by the BBC, which had been following the progress of the refugee defendant’s family since they arrived in Britain last year under the Government’s high-profile scheme to resettle vulnerable Syrians.
However, the BBC’s Newsnight programme has refused to say when it first heard about the case.
A police source told The Mail on Sunday the BBC had been informed four weeks previously in early May, when the teenage refugee had been arrested and charged.
It comes after police in Germany and Sweden faced damaging claims they tried to cover up sex attacks by migrants for fear of stoking public anger against new arrivals.
Last night, Ukip leader Nigel Farage – who has been criticised for warning the migrant crisis could put British women at risk – said: ‘Serious questions need to be asked about both the vetting of those the Government are allowing into the country, and of the authorities, including the BBC, who appear to have been involved in a conspiracy of silence over the case.
‘When did they know what was happening, and why is it only coming out now?’
The alleged attack on May 10 is believed to have taken place in Leazes Park, close to Newcastle’s football stadium.
Three of the seven people held were told they would face no further action, while the others were charged.
Omar Badreddin, the 18-year-old refugee who appeared on the BBC, was arrested on May 11, and charged with sexual assault on one girl the following day.
Mohammed Alfrouh, 20, was also charged with sexual assault against two girls.
The pair appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on May 18 but again neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service made any announcements about the charges or their appearance before judges for bail applications.
Another man, Mohammad Allakkoud, 18, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, were charged with sexual assault on May 19, again with no publicity.
The three men appeared for a second time in court on Friday, where they pleaded not guilty and were released on bail ahead of their trial in September.
The 17-year-old will appear at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in September.
The case was covered by the BBC for the first time on Friday as part of a Newsnight series tracking the progress of two Syrian families who had been resettled in Britain.
In the first programme of the series, broadcast on November 17, Newsnight reporter Katie Razzall met a family in a refugee camp in Jordan as they prepared to move to Glasgow.
Then in a follow-up on November 26, it showed Badreddin’s family for the first time.
In a video clip since deleted from the BBC iPlayer and YouTube, Newsnight said it would be ‘introducing you to the second family from Syria who we’ll be following.
They’ve just arrived in Newcastle’.
Nothing more was heard until Friday night when presenter Evan Davis told viewers:
‘We have to report things have taken a disturbing turn.
The teenage son was in court today charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.’
A police source claimed the BBC had known for several weeks, adding: ‘When police arrested one of the individuals involved they were aware he was part of this [resettlement] programme so they thought it only right they contact Newsnight and make them aware.’
But a spokesman for the programme insisted: ‘The programme was not aware of the allegations against Omar Badreddin at the time of his first court appearance in May so could not have covered it then.’
Labour MP Chi Onwurah, whose Newcastle Upon Tyne Central constituency covers Leazes Park, said she heard about the case on Friday.
She added: ‘I hope Northumbria Police would not try to hide this.’
A spokesman for the force claimed there had been ‘no need’ to publicise the investigation because it was resolved so quickly.