BULLFINCH victims’ wounds will ‘be re-opened’ by the appointment of Joanna Simons to a top job promoting tourism in the county.

Miss Simons, who was chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council during the Bullfinch scandal, has been appointed chairwoman of the board at Experience Oxfordshire despite being branded the ‘worst person for the job’.

After a serious case review into the sexual exploitation of hundreds of children in the county, which criticised the council, she apologised to victims but resisted calls to resign and rejected claims in the review of an ‘oppressive culture’ within the local authority.

She eventually stepped down as part of cost-cutting measures and pocketed a £259,000 pay off.

Yesterday Experience Oxfordshire – an organisation promoting the city to visitors – announced the former council chief as its new chairwoman of the board of directors.

Founder of child protection charity Enough Abuse UK, Marilyn Hawes, said Miss Simons ‘besmirched’ the city with her role in the Bullfinch scandal and was the ‘worst person for the job’.

She said: “The message we are sending out is that if you fail miserably you will still be able to come back.

“If they are trying to promote Oxford for the beautiful city that it is, she is the worst person for the job.

“She besmirched the city and was involved in the worst part of its history.”

A review was launched after seven members of a gang that raped, prostituted and sexually abused young girls in Oxford were jailed for a total of 95 years in 2013.

Its results, published in 2015, concluded that social workers – and police – had been aware of the abuse of girls since 2005 but had failed to pursue investigations or record it as a crime.

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Hawes said the re-appearance of Miss Simons, who refused to take personal responsibility for the council’s failings, into the public eye would re-open the victims’ wounds.

She said: “She was never reprimanded and has never shown any accountability – any self-respecting person would have disappeared.

“It’s laughable, it’s quite typical of people that have no respect for [the victims of] such vile, heinous crimes.

“For those trying to heal it’s like hacking away at a scab – it will open up the wounds.”

“If I was a victim of one of the families I would be up in arms.

“She disappeared and now has now come back as if nothing has happened.

“Her past will follow her like a ghost and it will haunt Oxford again.”

Neither Miss Simons nor Experience Oxfordshire responded to the Oxford Mail regarding Operation Bullfinch but the organisation issued a release on her behalf regarding her appointment.

In it Miss Simons said: “Having spent significant time as chief executive at Oxfordshire County Council, I have seen the vital work that Experience Oxfordshire does for the visitor economy.

“I am delighted to now join Experience Oxfordshire as chairwoman of the board.

“I am very much looking forward to leading the board, helping to promote the wonderful place that Oxfordshire is to work, visit and live in.”

Former chairman Graham Upton she brought a ‘wealth of experience’ to the role.