BOMBSHELL REPORT: Former Labour Rochdale Council Leader ‘LIED’ About Child Abuse
The inquiry into child sexual abuse in Rochdale has found that the former leader of Rochdale Council – Richard Farnell – ‘lied’ about child abuse in the town.
The report accuses Farnell of a ‘shameful’ refusal to accept responsibility for lying about the abuse, which took place over three decades.
In particular, the council-run Knowl View School was the location of a large-scale abuse scandal where the staff were found by the report to have been “complacent and arguably complicit”.
The report looked into institutions where children were placed by Rochdale Council between the early 1960s and the mid-1990s, where potentially thousands of children were systematically abused.
As well as the well-known mass abuse of young girls in the town, the report uncovered cases of sexual exploitation of boys as young as 11 which had taken place in the town.
Shockingly, the abuse had taken place in a number of public places across the town, including a bus station and the Smith Streets public toilets – which were just the other side of the road of council offices.
The report also explained lost opportunities to prosecute former Liberal (then Liberal Democrat) Rochdale MP Cyril Smith who has been accused by many alleged victims of being a mass child abuser.
Following three weeks of public hearings in October last year, the report was published this week and said that it “did not believe” the evidence put forward by Farnell.
Alexis Jay, chairman of the inquiry 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.”
Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, responded to the report saying: “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.”
The Labour party have now suspended former council leader Richard Farnell following the report’s allegations.