LONDON (AFP) – Six men under investigation in Britain over alleged child sex exploitation were ordered Wednesday to stay away from girls, in what police hailed as a “groundbreaking” court ruling.
London’s High Court issued an injunction banning the men from Birmingham, in central England, from approaching “any female under 18” with whom they are not associated.
The move was aimed at protecting a vulnerable 17-year-old girl in authority care who had been found by police in a hotel room and around cars with men, the court heard.
A judge ruled Wednesday that the men, who have not been convicted of any crime in relation to the teenager, could be named, despite objections from police concerned about their safety.
Judge Michael Keehan said there was “a high public interest in the public having the right to know what has happened in this case”.
Injunctions were made against Mohammed Anjam, Omar Ahmed, Naseem Khan, Mohammed Javed, Shah Alam and Sajid Hussain – who all come from the Birmingham area.
Most of the men denied any wrongdoing.
One told reporters as he left court Wednesday that the proceedings were “racist” and said he would appeal the decision.
Detective Chief Superintendent Danny Long, head of West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit, defended the injunctions which he said followed months of investigations.
“Being found in a hotel room with a child isn’t a crime. Being in a taxi with a child isn’t a crime. Having the number of a vulnerable child in your phone or on your social media network isn’t a crime. But these injunctions mean that it is now prohibited for these men,” he said.
He added that the court orders were “incredibly restricting”, prohibiting “any contact, in any form, with any girl under 18 years of age, who they can’t prove they know”.
He said anyone who breached an injunction could face prison.
Lawyers for Birmingham City Council, who launched civil court proceedings against 10 men, are due to present more evidence against several others on Thursday.
Authorities say there is currently inadequate evidence for a criminal conviction.