Rotherham grooming gang: The child rape brothers given £500k in legal aid
THREE "pure evil" brothers have received up to £500,000 in legal aid after raping children in Rotherham - while dozens of their victims have yet to receive any compensation.
Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain - known as Mad Ash, Bash and Bono - formed a violent, gun-toting, drug-dealing gang. They pleaded poverty despite running a petrol station, takeaways and an egg farm that supplies supermarkets, alongside owning a number of properties. A Freedom of Information request has revealed they were awarded £370,000 in legal aid for their costs in the 2016 crown court trial. This does not include other magistrates hearings and family court battles which experts say could tot up to £100,000 more. Survivors last night called the payout "outrageous" and "immoral". One top solicitor revealed that of the 86 victims he represents, 70 have not yet received any compensation payout. Dozens of others have received sums as low as £2,000.
The Hussain brothers, who poured petrol over their victims, are said to have "owned" the South Yorkshire town for more than 10 years.
Some girls were just 11 years old when they were raped, tied up and tortured and passed between abusers.
Ringleader Arshid, 42, was jailed for 35 years, Bannaras 19 years, and Basharat was given 25 years.
Sammy Woodhouse, 34, one of their 50 victims, said: "This is completely outrageous and immoral. "They have probably received 25 per cent more money than what the survivors of their abuse have had in total as compensation.
"Something needs to be put in place to stop these people just laughing at the system and milking the taxpayer dry."
Former youth worker Jayne Senior MBE, who helped expose the scandal, said: "I'm totally shocked and horrified.This is terrible.
"These rapists and abusers are pure evil but they've had almost half a million pounds spent on them, yet these poor girls get nothing.
"It feels like the judicial system is not set up to protect victims of some of the most horrendous crimes of abuse, torture and trafficking this country has ever seen."
Sammy added: "Perhaps if they had been forced to pay for their own defence it might have made them question even taking it to trial.
Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain formed a violent, gun-toting, drug-dealing gang (Image: Daily Express)
"Instead they are able to get a free payout to have a trial defence, launch appeals and take it as far as they can - at absolutely no cost to themselves."
She said the Hussain family had "loads of businesses". "Surely they could have afforded their own lawyers?" she added. "But I guess they probably put everything in other people's names. It's a disgrace."
Sammy, who gave birth to a son after being raped by Arshid and is fighting social workers' attempts to allow the rapist access to the now 17-year-old child, also slammed "public servants at the police and council" who "failed" to do their jobs.
She said: "Because they didn't do what they were paid to do and ignored what was going on they have now landed the public with paying all these legal fees for these men. It's completely outrageous.
"The only people laughing in all this are the lawyers."
Jayne Senior agreed, adding: "If we'd have listened to these girls all those years ago, the court cases would not have cost this much. All the evidence was there decades ago. They have also had to relive the abuse time and again because of the brothers' not-guilty pleas.
"They have property in this family which the Government should go after. Why are they not instigating the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover this money? These men should be punished more for trying to lie their way out of the crimes.
Victim Sammy Woodhouse said the Hussains had 'loads of businesses' in Rotherham (Image: Philip Coburn)
"These girls deserve this money and should not be fighting for it. It's about time we think about protecting them and not the perpetrators.
"Many of these survivors are involved in other legal cases trying to fight for their children back amongst other things and have no access to legal aid.
"You can be the biggest criminal in the world and still get legal aid while these girls are fighting to get compensation.
"Their criminal record reduces the amount of money they are awarded.
"These survivors are having to fight for every single penny in compensation for the abuse they went though. That fight could go on for years."
Solicitor David Greenwood revealed just 16 of his 86 cases have been finalised.
He said: "There are about 70 girls still waiting for compensation.
"Everyone is entitled to representation but the way in which they conducted their defence - and I blame the perpetrators - was an insult to the girls. There was so much evidence it was overwhelming and I fail to understand how they could get away with it.
"They wasted a lot of money trying to defend themselves."
Rotherham is a town in South Yorkshire, England (Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
John O'Connell, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said nobody should be denied justice because of their financial situation. "However, if there are cases where wealthy individuals are cheating the system to claim payments, that is completely unacceptable. Authorities must do all they can to make sure those who can pay for their own defence do so, otherwise those in need of help are missing out," he said.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Anyone facing a crown court trial is eligible for legal aid subject to a strict means test.
"Without proper legal representation a defendant might argue that their trial was unfair and any conviction they received could be quashed."
Young women are being let down by our civil justice system
It is the nature of the crime that these friends and gang mates behave utterly selfishly. Their only thought is for their own gratification as they exploit vulnerable, often intoxicated, young girls to pay debts or earn favours.
Such is life in this small but growing underclass in our cities.
After hearing of the crimes perpetrated on ordinary young girls in Rotherham nothing comes as a shock.
Rotherham victim 'disgusted’ by decision not to investigate councillors
The news that the Hussains ripped through more than £300,000 in legal fees doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It is another indicator of their disregard for anyone around them. They knew there was a wealth of evidence against them. They knew they would be found guilty.
But either out of spite for the girls who had to relive the abuse in open court or an utter disregard for the taxpayer, they tried to get away with their hideous crimes. Only Bannaras had the good sense to plead guilty and save us all a few bob.
Many of the young women who want to achieve justice through the civil justice system are being let down again. A series of appeals in the past two years has put cases on hold and brought uncertainty as to whether they will even be compensated and thereby have a chance at a decent start in life.
Some have had to wait five years and the legal wrangling continues. Some of these very deserving clients will receive no compensation from the council or police, despite their litany of failures.
This scourge of our cities and our youngsters will continue until we find a way to educate and nurture the young men who entertain the idea that it's OK to give young girls alcohol and to rape them.
Some say this is a crime committed by young men of Pakistani Muslim heritage yet there are other ethnic groups involved - and that includes whites.
One common denominator is the lack of decent jobs or positive interests. Building self-esteem for young men might be a solution and introducing the idea of respect for women would help society.