Coun­cil boss ‘not pre­pared’ to ac­cept any re­spon­si­bil­ity

Rochdale Observer - - CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY -

●●HERE are some key ex­changes be­tween Coun Far­nell and Mr Altman:

BA: So what did she [coun­cil ed­u­ca­tion chief Mary Mof­fat] tell you about Knowl View?

RF: I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of Mary Mof­fat rais­ing Knowl View with me.

BA: So Mary Mof­fat was – for a short pe­riod of time dur­ing your lead­er­ship – your deputy, who was through­out the whole pe­riod of time of your lead­er­ship the ed­u­ca­tion chair. You say you have got no rec­ol­lec­tion at all of her ever rais­ing Knowl View with you?

RF: I have no rec­ol­lec­tion what­so­ever.

BA: When you say, Mr Far­nell, ‘I Richard Far­nell have no rec­ol­lec­tion what­so­ever’ what does that re­ally mean?

RF: I do not rec­ol­lect Mary Mof­fat men­tion­ing to me any is­sue con­cerned with Knowl View. If she’d raised it I wouldn’t have for­got­ten.

BA: So what you are re­ally telling us is she never did.

RF: Yes. Yes I’m say­ing that.

BA: So Mary Mof­fat, in all the years we know there were prob­lems at Knowl View, not a word? RF: Not a word. BA: So she left you, your erst­while deputy and ed­u­ca­tion chair, com­pletely and ut­terly ex­posed as Labour leader of the coun­cil, to a scandal at Knowl View? Is that what you are telling us?

RF: What I’m say­ing is Mary Mof­fat’s style wasn’t to come run­ning to me ev­ery five min­utes with prob­lems within the depart­ment. She was a for­mi­da­ble politi­cian in her own right. She got on with the job and she was con­fi­dent in her own abil­ity to deal with the is­sues that were put be­fore her.

BA: But just think what you are say­ing, Mr Far­nell. You are the leader. She was the ed­u­ca­tion chair. And how­ever for­mi­da­ble she was, any as­tute ed­u­ca­tion chair would not leave the leader un­sighted by the kind of is­sues this in­quiry has heard about go­ing on at Knowl View be­tween 1989 and the time you lost your seat on the coun­cil in May 1992. Is that what you are se­ri­ously telling the in­quiry? She never brought it to your at­ten­tion?

RF: She never brought it to my at­ten­tion. BA: Nor did any­one else? RF: No. ●●AT the end of Coun Far­nell’s ev­i­dence Brian Altman asked whether the leader took any ‘per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity’ for the fail­ure to in­ves­ti­gate abuse at Knowl View dur­ing the pe­riod of his lead­er­ship. Coun Far­nell said the blame lay with se­nior of­fi­cers for fail­ing to brief him.

BA: Fi­nally, this, Mr Far­nell. You’ll pre­sum­ably un­der­stand that sev­eral boys went through that school, vul­ner­a­ble boys, and their lives were blighted by what hap­pened to them. You un­der­stand that, don’t you? RF: Yes. BA: Pre­sum­ably, you’re pre­pared to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for that as leader dur­ing the pe­riod, aren’t you?

RF: The coun­cil should ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for what hap­pened in Knowl View, and in­di­vid­u­als must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own ac­tions. BA: What about you? RF: Well, I bit­terly re­gret that the se­nior of­fi­cers of the coun­cil never once ap­proached me to brief me about th­ese mat­ters. They had ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to do so, and it was in­cum­bent on them to give me those facts and they never did, and I bit­terly re­gret that, be­cause if they had done, I may have been able to help. I may have been able to chal­lenge, as has al­ready been said, the ad­vice and the ac­tions of the of­fi­cers. ●●COUN Far­nell said for­mer direc­tor of ed­u­ca­tion Diana Ca­vanagh, for­mer direc­tor of social ser­vices Ian Davey and for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive John Pierce were all to blame.

BA: Just so we un­der­stand, be­cause there will come a mo­ment shortly when you leave this in­quiry, Mr Far­nell, but when you do, ev­ery­body should un­der­stand that you are not pre­pared to ac­cept per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for this?

RF: I am not pre­pared to ac­cept per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ing to take ac­tion in this mat­ter. For me to be able to take ac­tion in this mat­ter, I would have had to be in­formed of the sit­u­a­tion, and as clearly demon­strated, the key peo­ple – the peo­ple with the in­for­ma­tion, the peo­ple with the pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­form me about th­ese mat­ters, failed to do so, and that’s a mat­ter of record.

●●Knowl View school

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