Alexis Jay will lead child abuse failings probe at Rotherham

Alexis Jay Ms Jay will determine when her inquiry starts

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A former chief social work adviser to the Scottish government is to lead an inquiry into a beleaguered children's services department's handling of cases involving child exploitation.

Alexis Jay has been appointed to lead the inquiry into the cases dealt with in Rotherham from 1997 to the present.

The council's chief executive has apologised to victims who had been "let down" by its "systemic failure".

Ms Jay and her team will determine the start date for the inquiry.

Chief executive Martin Kimber appeared in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee in January to answer questions.

Chairman Keith Vaz asked why Rotherham had "failed so dismally".

Last year South Yorkshire Police's chief constable was also criticised after The Times newspaper revealed police reports referred to widespread abuse of girls.

Ring of child abusers

Speaking to The Times one of the women, now in her 20s, said she began a relationship with a 24-year-old man, who had served two prison sentences for violent offences, in 1999, when she was 14.

It is understood the man twice made the girl pregnant.

The newspaper said social services became aware before the relationship ended that the man was part of a ring of men suspected of abusing more than 40 young teenagers in the town.

Chief Constable David Crompton was told to "get a grip" on the situation in Rotherham by the same Commons committee the previous October.

Ms Jay led a high profile inspection of Looked After Children's services in Jersey and spent more than 30 years working in local councils in deprived areas of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Martin Kimber, chief executive of Rotherham Borough Council said he was pleased to have acquired the services of "such high-calibre individuals".

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