A WATCHDOG committee of the county council has refused to back calls for an independent inquiry in the wake of Operation Bullfinch.

Yesterday the local authority’s performance scrutiny committee was told those responsible for a “systemic failure” to stop the sexual abuse of girls in Oxford have not been held to account.

Labour councillor John Christie added that the Serious Case Review (SCR) published on March 3 did not achieve “justice and accountability” for the victims.

He put forward a recommendation to the committee that it should call on the county council’s cabinet to establish an independent inquiry.

But Labour group leader and committee chairman, Liz Brighouse, stopped the discussion after one speaker and said it was not the committee’s role to make such a recommendation.

In 2013 seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years for raping, grooming and prostituting six girls between 2005 and 2011.

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In a statement read out at yesterday’s meeting Mr Christie said: “The reasons for this failure need to be understood and those responsible need to be held to account.

The victims of abuse and the Oxfordshire public are entitled to expect that accountability is established and justice is done.”

Also calling for an independent inquiry are the mothers of two of the Bullfinch victims, East Oxford Labour MP Andrew Smith, and Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld.

But responding to Mr Christie, Mrs Brighouse said: “Looking at our remit as a performance scrutiny committee, the council has already accepted the findings of the serious case review.”

Lib Dem Janet Godden said: “I’m not sure what an independent inquiry would uncover that has not already been uncovered.”

In a Commons question to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on March 3, Mr Smith asked: “Isn’t it the case that the SCR is based largely on the evidence of the internal management reviews undertaken by the agencies concerned?

“Should these not be subjected to wider independent scrutiny?”