A few days ago I made a thread on the grooming gang allegations in Barrow. It did quite well, and I spent hours following the story to make sure it remained somewhat up to date, but unfortunately, the first tweet on the thread is now gone. I didn’t delete the tweet myself, so I’m assuming it’s either the fault of a hacker or a Twitter bug. But here is the story again, because I think it deserves to stay up after the appalling lack of attention our national media gave to it.
20th of May:
A young girl from Barrow made a post on Facebook explaining why she had gone missing the night before. Accompanied with images of her bruised body, black eye and cut finger, she claimed she was taken to have sex with three men, who tried to saw off her finger as punishment for not attending their parties for seven weeks due to the Covid lockdown.
21st of May:
The Chief Constable in Barrow made a video confirming a twelve-month peer-reviewed investigation into grooming gangs. They claimed there was no evidence to suggest Asian grooming gangs operated in Barrow, and said, “we are humble”, not “complacent”.
Another girl made a Facebook post accusing the Police of lying. She claimed the Police had picked her up from the premises of where the abuse had happened, yet basically told her family she was “nuts”. She even added an email from her National Referral Mechanism, a method of identifying victims of human trafficking, which had concluded that she was a victim of modern slavery. The type of exploitation which had occurred was “Child Sexual Exploitation/Forced Criminality”.
The Mail and the Sun reported that the first girl had been arrested for breaching her bail conditions and was charged with perverting the course of justice. At the time, the police had not confirmed what specifically led to that arrest.
22nd of May:
Her sister made a Facebook post responding to the rumours following reports of her arrest. She suggested that her sister had a curfew as she kept being taken out of Barrow and going missing for days. And she says that when her sister didn’t arrive home on time for her curfew, the family had called the police, who found her and took her to hospital. She also claimed that the Police stayed with her but did not arrest her that day — only after she made her Facebook post did they take steps to put her in custody. With that, she also attached many screenshots of what looked to be Snapchat conversations between the girl and the accused.
Her family made a Facebook group with the aim of promoting her cause and getting her justice, and a Twitter account with the name @justiceforellie was also created, posting even more screenshots of Snapchat conversations. This particular one is extremely distressing: “I will chop your hair then your throat”…
I also noticed that the Cumbria Police Twitter account had started hiding some of the replies which referenced this particular story. Some were offensive, others insulting, but interestingly, some were just questions. An example would be the following from @jorddd.
Someone created an open letter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the National Crime Agency, referencing Rochdale and Rotherham. The accompanied petition now has over 15,000 signatures. The original Facebook post has over 33,000 shares.
23rd of May:
The local press reported that the girl has been charged with seven counts of perverting the course of justice, adding that some were relating to false allegations and some even falsified evidence.
However, anger towards the local press had been brewing up for some time.
A Facebook account, which @justiceforellie claims is suspected of having some involvement with those accused of grooming, had made a Facebook reply claiming to have the police and the media in his pocket. In another reply, he had named a reporter for the local paper, claiming she would do anything he says because he had the “paper in my pockets”.
These events led to many of the locals accusing the paper of being biased against the girl.
The editor made a statement against those who had called for the paper to shut down, suggesting the town would be worse off without it, which the constituency MP also backed on Twitter. The editor also made threats of legal action within the statement for those abusing journalists or defaming them.
One of the journalists says she has now been offered Police-protection.
There was a car-beeping protest in one of Barrow’s retail parks in support of the girl who made the Facebook post. Leaflets were handed out as well. This was covered in the local paper, and one of the protestors also uploaded a video on Twitter.
The girl’s step-father claimed the police are removing evidence by taking the girl’s sixth phone and not giving it back to her.
24th of May:
#justiceforellie was trending into early hours of the morning on Twitter. Some businesses in Barrow started to stick #justiceforellie signs on their windows to show solidarity.
The Guardian also covered the story… Kind of. They wrote an article on how the local MP had called for calm in the constituency after the allegations had been made.
25th of May:
There was another protest today in Barrow in support of the girl.
The local paper reported that Tommy Robinson had turned up to the protest, but the family have put up a statement saying they “do not want him involved”.
29th of May:
The girl’s brother claimed that she had been refused bail because the police consider it safer for her in prison. He said there were multiple tests concluding that she is mentally stable and her injuries have not come from self-harm, but the police are still considering self-harm as a possibility for the root of the injuries.
There are now over 80,000 members in the Facebook group supporting the girl.
It was revealed by the Guardian that the local journalist covering the story left Barrow due to the risk to her and her child’s life.
Of course, we don’t know the full story yet, but here is the problem which I think makes this a national story, not just a local one.
Either, the bruises, black eye, and stab marks were fake, the NRM was fake, the messages were fake, and all the girls who have since come forward are lying.
The Police are engaged in a major grooming gang cover-up. If this is the case, this is a HUGE scandal on the verge of bursting.
Their investigations and peer-review processes are useless at protecting victims, but it’s not an intentional cover-up.
I have spoken to people of all persuasions (for the sake of giving this story a balanced view), and here’s their take on it (as much as I can legally say).
Those who believe the first simply agree with the Police that the story is falsified.
Those who believe the second cite Rochdale, Rotherham and Manchester. For this group, previous grooming gang scandals are making it extremely difficult to believe the Police.
Those believing the third tend to agree mostly with the second. They believe the Police are not able to properly deal with and protect victims, but they don’t believe any intentional malice is involved.
I will try and update this if any new information becomes available (provided it’s legal to do so).