Birmingham council wants ban on six men contacting girl
Six men could be banned from contacting a vulnerable teenager under a ground-breaking legal case.
Birmingham City Council asked the High Court in London for orders barring the men from "contacting, approaching or following" the girl, who is 17.
The court heard the authority had found "a number of individuals" behaving "inappropriately" around the youngster.
Lawyers believe there is not enough evidence to secure criminal convictions against the men.
The judge, Mr Justice Keehan, has already imposed temporary orders against "several" men at the request of Birmingham social workers.
This includes two men, of Pakistani heritage, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The two men were arrested in October after officers spotted the girl leaving their car at about 03:00 GMT.
When the men realised officers were following them, they sped off and went through a red light.
When the Nissan Micra was eventually stopped, a half empty bottle of vodka was found in the car and the girl's phone number was found on one of the men's mobiles.
The men, an unemployed 27-year-old and a 31-year-old, whose family owns a string of newsagents in Birmingham, claimed they had never previously met the teenager.
Mr Justice Keehan told the men their explanation was palpable nonsense.
He said the girl was in the car for nefarious purposes and he was satisfied they were preparing her for sexual activity.
He is scheduled to hear evidence relating to all six men at a series of civil court trials in which he is being asked by the council to make the orders long-term.
The orders would bar the men from contacting, approaching or following the teenager and from approaching any female under 18, with whom they are not personally associated, in public places.
'Groomed, persuaded or threatened'
Lorna Meyer QC, representing the council, told the judge she believed there was enough evidence to obtain the injunctions.
She said if long-term injunctions were made, and if any of the men were found "in the company of a vulnerable child" by the council or West Midlands Police, then lawyers would ask a judge to impose jail terms for contempt of court.
"Vulnerable children and, in some cases, adult victims have often been groomed, persuaded or threatened," Miss Meyer said.
"It can be difficult to empower the victims to come forward and give evidence against the perpetrators of the exploitation.
"This case does not rely upon the victim to give evidence."
She said the council was acting with the support of the police, "to protect vulnerable persons where they are frightened or lack understanding of what is happening to them".
However, she said there was an "element of uncertainty" about the council's legal action.
She said a judge at an earlier hearing had described the case as "exploring the legal framework" under which a child could be protected.
The identity of the men may be revealed following legal arguments on Wednesday.