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Telford - A ringleader in the Telford sex abuse scandal was a grandfather who ran a ‘rape house’ where children were sold for sex, it was claimed on Sunday.

Shahzad ‘Keith’ Khan allegedly made £2 000 (R33 500) a night selling one girl for sex.

He was allowed to carry on unimpeded despite a neighbour first warning police about her fears that he was peddling children for sex in 1996, it was reported on Sunday. The neighbour told a newspaper: "They told me they couldn’t prosecute him as they’d never have enough evidence. I got the feeling they were brushing me off."

Khan was later reported to officers by a child sex victim and police opened an investigation, but no charges followed.

Victims forced to provide sex at his terraced property in the Shropshire town dubbed it ‘the rape house’. One, who had her virginity taken by Khan at the age of 14 and is now in her 30s, told the Sunday Mirror she was pimped out by him for three years.

The victim told police but the case against Khan collapsed before it reached court. He died in 2015 aged 61 without facing justice.

West Mercia Police could not provide information on Sunday on why the investigation into Khan was derailed.

The number of child sexual exploitation victims in Telford dating back to the early 1980s has been estimated at 1 000. Whistleblowers at the force claimed on Sunday that it failed to pursue court orders against 20 suspects because it was ‘too much trouble’.

The three unidentified officers said the force and the Crown Prosecution Service investigated the possibility of securing Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) against suspects identified during Operation Chalice which resulted in seven men being jailed in December 2012. The inquiry identified 200 suspects operating in the town between 2007 and 2009, and 110 potential victims.

One officer told the Sunday Mirror: "Two senior officers had a conversation about going for Sexual Risk Orders. It would have meant they would be monitored by the police. The question was, should we apply for 20 or 25 of these orders? The view from the senior officer was it was too much trouble. A lot of us were horrified."

SROs were introduced in 2015 and can be sought by the police against an individual who has not been convicted or cautioned for a sexual offence but is considered to pose a risk of harm.

West Mercia Police said legal advice identified that the cases did not meet the requirements for SROs but other measures were taken to monitor those considered a potential threat.