Council boss says she was sacked for raising child sexual abuse fears

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 29 September 2017

Maggie Siviter is suing North Somerset Council after being dismissed in 2015.

Maggie Siviter is suing North Somerset Council after being dismissed in 2015.

Wales News Service Ltd.

A former council boss has claimed she was sacked for raising concerns over sexual exploitation and grooming of vulnerable young girls at businesses in Weston.

A former council boss has claimed she was sacked for raising concerns over sexual exploitation and grooming of vulnerable young girls at businesses in Weston.

North Somerset Council’s former safeguarding lead, Maggie Siviter, told an employment tribunal authorities failed to act when she warned licensed premises were suspected of being used to groom underage girls.

The 56-year-old is suing the council for £1.4million for breach of contract, arguing she should have been protected by whistleblowing laws.

Ms Siviter, who was dismissed in November 2015 after just six months in the post, believes she was forced out by the authority in ‘retaliation’ after she escalated her concerns to young person’s watchdog Ofsted when her pleas for an investigation were ignored.

She believes ‘the quality of the service provided to children was severely compromised’.

Speaking at Pontypridd County Court last week, Ms Siviter said no risk assessments were completed by the council over suspicions girls were being sexually exploited at Butterfly’s massage parlour, a bar owned by Kiem Binh Mu and his brother Cam, and an Indian restaurant run by Alkas Hussain – claims condemned as ‘100 per cent false’ by Mr Hussain to the Mercury.

Ms Siviter said she also had concerns about the influence of Cllr Peter Bryant – who she claimed was an acquaintance of the men linked to exploitation – on the council’s willingness to investigate her claims.

Cllr Bryant reportedly failed in an appeal to have his name excluded from the tribunal.

Ms Siviter convened three multi-agency meetings between August and October 2015 to discuss the intelligence. The second meeting was held after it came to light children had been working at the massage parlour.

She said: “One girl said she had worked there for 18 months and made allegations that she had been forced to have sex with men.”

The suspicions were first raised by council official Julian Feltwell, who was investigating a premises owned by Mr Hussain for supplying counterfeit tobacco.

Mr Feltwell told the tribunal: “There was the suspicion tobacco was being used to groom and reward children for possible child sexual exploitation.

“I became aware employees of one businessman in question resided in a house of multiple occupancy owned by Cllr Bryant.”

Mr Feltwell added Cllr Bryant was connected to the Binh Mu brothers who were ‘previously suspected of allowing young girls on to their licensed premises where the suspicion was that they were being groomed’.

Cllr Bryant provided a character reference for Cam – who was later jailed – when he was on trial for pulling a shotgun on a council tax bailiff.

Ms Siviter said it was ‘concerning’ Cllr Bryant ‘had connections with those discussed as being potentially harmful to children’ and there were ‘concerns the behaviour of an elected member was affecting the safeguarding of children at risk of sexual exploitation’.

Tony Oliver, chairman of North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, described one of the meetings as ‘based on rumours and speculation’.

The tribunal continues today (Thursday) and tomorrow, with two later dates scheduled for late December.

Other News Stories

A £1.6million project which will transform a Somerset town has been backed by town councillors.

Read more
25 minutes ago

A popular tourist attraction has increased its efforts to ‘protect rare and endangered’ creatures.

Read more

A former teacher from Weston-super-Mare, who committed an ‘appalling’ assault on a 16-year-old babysitter, has been found guilty.

Read more

Live music, delicious food and a range of fun and games will be enjoyed at a charity event this weekend.

Read more

A temporary appointment has been made to fill North Somerset Council’s chief executive vacancy.

Read more

A cricket club’s showpiece event was a ‘resounding success’ at the weekend – attracting a healthy crowd.

Read more

The Liberal Democrats has announced its Weston parliamentary candidate for the next General Election.

Read more
Yesterday, 21:00

A University Centre Weston (UCW) art student has had her artwork selected for the 250th Royal Academy summer exhibition.

Read more
Yesterday, 19:00

A Weston town councillor will enter the ring to fight for Cancer Research UK.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:00

Unarmed combat displays, band parades, field gun races and war stories are just some of the activities taking place during Weston-super-Mare’s Armed Forces Weekend.

Read more

Most Read News

Read Online

Read the Weston Worle and Somerset Mercury e-edition E-edition

Local Weather



max temp: 17°C

min temp: 11°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Send Your Letters
Order Photos
Family notices
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

Weston Mercury twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

Somerset's trusted business finder