Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the fact that the gang of nine men convicted of abusing girls as young as 13 were Asian and their victims white must not be ignored.
He said it would be a “national scandal” if the authorities had failed to intervene to protect the children because of fears that it would lead to the “demonisation” of the Muslim community.
And he voiced fears that the “closed community” the men came from may have turned a blind eye to their activities, either out of fear or because the girls concerned were from a different background.
A gang of nine Muslim men from Pakistan and Afghanistan was last week found guilty of plying girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.
Judge Gerald Clifton, who heard the case, said in his sentencing remarks that they had treated their victims as “worthless and beyond all respect” at least in part because “they were not of your community or religion”.