‘Vic­tims feel Richard Far­nell isn’t fit to be leader of the coun­cil’

Rochdale Observer - - CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY -

the coun­cil added.

For­mer pupils at Knowl View school, which closed in 1995, say they were sub­jected to hor­ren­dous abuse dur­ing the 1980s and 1990s.

Coun Far­nell told the in­quiry on Tues­day that although the direc­tor of ed­u­ca­tion, direc­tor of social ser­vices, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Labour ed­u­ca­tion chair and Tory health author­ity chair had all known about emerg­ing al­le­ga­tions when he was first leader, they had never in­formed him at the time.

He also de­nied ad­mit­ting to fel­low Rochdale Labour coun­cil­lor Peter Join­son in 2014 that he had in fact known. Coun Join­son was called to give ev­i­dence him­self and re­it­er­ated his al­le­ga­tion.

He said Coun Far­nell – dur­ing a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion that he had later re­ported both to the re­gional Labour party and sub­se­quently to the po­lice – had ad­mit­ted to hav­ing known about the scandal in 1992, in­clud­ing to hav­ing seen a draft re­port into the al­le­ga­tions at the time. Mr Scorer says both Labour and the Lib­eral Democrats emerge badly from a ‘shabby tale’.

Last week, Lib Dem Paul Rowen, who ran the coun­cil af­ter Coun Far­nell be­tween 1992 and 1996 – and was later the town’s MP – told the in­quiry he had been un­aware of the scale of the prob­lems at Knowl View un­til later. He had now”, he not read pa­pers on the sub­ject of­fered to him by of­fi­cers when he took up of­fice in May 1992 be­cause he was too busy, he said, adding that he would have ex­pected of­fi­cers or po­lit­i­cal col­leagues to have made him aware if there were se­ri­ous on­go­ing con­cerns. When ap­point­ing Cyril Smith as a gov­er­nor in 1994 he had not re­called that sex­ual abuse al­le­ga­tions had al­ready been made against him 15 years ear­lier, he said.

“I had no rea­son to doubt his in­tegrity or his hon­esty at that par­tic­u­lar time,” he said, adding that he had not heard any ‘ru­mours’ about him ei­ther.

Cyril Smith was Rochdale’s Lib­eral MP for 20 years. Af­ter his death al­le­ga­tions emerged that he had abused boys at both Knowl View and Cam­bridge House, a boys’ hos­tel that closed in the 1970s, for years.

“Nei­ther the Lib­eral Demo­crat nor Labour par­ties come well out of this shabby tale,” Mr Scorer said. “Both par­ties need to change. The vic­tims are dis­mayed at the ev­i­dence from politi­cians dur­ing this hear­ing. They feel strongly that Rochdale needs a new gen­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who can tackle th­ese prob­lems ef­fec­tively.”

He added that his clients – some of whom al­lege they were abused by Smith – would have to live with the ef­fects ‘for the rest of their lives’.

“Noth­ing can change the past, but my clients want to know that lessons are be­ing learned and that chil­dren will be pro­tected in the fu­ture,” he added.

“It’s clear from the hear­ings that some of the cur­rent se­nior em­ployed staff at Rochdale coun­cil are now mak­ing real ef­forts to com­bat child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

“I know that Greater Manch­ester Po­lice have also done a lot to im­prove their re­sponse to child sex­ual abuse.

“The bat­tle isn’t won, but there are many ded­i­cated social work­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers, youth work­ers and teach­ers in Greater Manch­ester try­ing to do the right thing to pro­tect chil­dren.”

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