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‘Shameful’ Labour Council Leader Suspended For Claiming No Knowledge of Historic Rochdale Child Sex Abuse

Cyril Smith
Hulton Archive/Getty

A Labour Party council leader has been suspended and is facing a police investigation after an official inquiry said he had lied under oath, having claimed he had no knowledge of child sexual abuse in the town.

Evidence given by Labour’s Richard Farnell about his knowledge of abuse in the Greater Manchester town “defies belief”, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found, calling his refusal to take responsibility “shameful”.

The report describes how, over more than 30 years, children were abused at Knowl View School, as well as in the town centre, the bus station, and a notorious public toilet directly opposite the council’s own offices.

In 2014, Breitbart London exclusively reported allegations of a coordinated cover-up of the abuse by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in the town.

However, the IICSA report found “no deliberate cover-up” by authorities, but said they displayed a “careless and wholly inadequate response to the serious sexual abuse of children” in the town.

The panel also found a “valuable opportunity” was missed to prosecute the town’s former Liberal MP accused-paedophile Cyril Smith (pictured above), during his lifetime in the late 1990s.

“The records of individual children convey a total lack of urgency on the part of the relevant authorities to address the problem and treat the matters involved for what they were – serious sexual assaults,” the 154-page document reads.

It says that, from 1989 onwards, the police, Rochdale Council’s social services, education departments, and school staff, knew about the horrific acts happening in the public toilets.

The panel adds: “This remained the case even in the face of clear evidence of the risks to children’s health. The file of one young boy at Knowl View recorded that he had contracted hepatitis through ‘rent boy’ activities.

“We concluded that no-one in authority viewed child sexual exploitation as an urgent child protection issue. Rather, boys as young as 11 were not seen as victims but as authors of their own abuse.”

Prof Alexis Jay, the chairman of the inquiry who also led the report into Rotherham abuse, said: “After listening to the evidence presented by a number of victims and survivors in Rochdale at the time, I am deeply disturbed at the evidence of extensive abuse and the institutional responses to that abuse.

“Many of those who testified to their abuse have never had the opportunity to seek justice through the courts. I hope that the public hearings and this report has offered them some measure of acknowledgement for their suffering.”

UKIP Leader Gerard Batten, who is in Rochdale Thursday to protest Labour Party failings in grooming cases and support victims, commented: “We have still to uncover and understand the full extent of these crimes, and what is still going on.

“A recurring theme in these abuse and sex slavery cases is that they are predominantly happening in Labour-controlled local authorities. The police, social services, and Labour have all failed the most vulnerable members of our society – children.

“In particular in Rochdale, it has been shown that an arch-perpetrator of these crimes, Cyril Smith, was protected from prosecution. We need to know why.”

Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We acknowledge that, certainly in the case of Knowl View School, there were significant failures of leadership and management and a failure to investigate concerns in order to protect children.

“While the inquiry found no evidence of cover-ups or political pacts, it is clear from its report that council officers and school staff failed in their most basic duty of care towards children.

“Although the failure to understand the risks at the time was not unique to Rochdale, the consequences of the failures for the children involved were exceptionally serious.

“The council has apologised and acknowledged that children were failed. I repeat that apology today and say again that we are truly sorry.”

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