Deportation row over Rochdale sex gang
The Home Office is under pressure to explain why members of the Rochdale grooming gang who abused girls as young as 12 have not been deported, even though they lost a taxpayerfunded battle against their removal. The four – including Shabir Ahmed, 66, the gang’s ringleader – received more than £1 million in legal aid in an unsuccessful attempt to fight deportation after they were convicted of serious sex offences against the girls, yet all four remain in the country.
THE Home Office is under pressure to explain why members of the Rochdale grooming gang who abused girls as young as 12 have not been deported, even though they lost a taxpayerfunded battle against their removal.
The four – including Shabir Ahmed, 66, the gang’s ringleader – received more than £1 million in legal aid in an unsuccessful attempt to fight deportation after they were convicted of serious sex offences against the girls.
Despite Appeal Court judges rejecting their claims and ruling they could be stripped of their citizenship and deported, they are still in the UK and apparently not facing removal almost a decade after the scandal.
Ahmed is serving a 22-year prison term for rape but Qari Abdul Rauf, 50, is back at his Rochdale home and has a night-time driving job. Abdul Aziz, 48, has also been seen in the town, locals say. The whereabouts of Adil Khan, 49, are not known.
One abuse victim wet herself and ran into a shop after spotting her attacker in the town recently, according to locals, and another bumped into her abuser in a nightclub only last week.
Theresa May ruled when she was home secretary in 2016 that it would be “conducive to the public good” to deprive the four of their right to remain in the UK.
The Home Office declined to say what, if any, action was being taken to deport the men following the judgment. “We do not routinely comment on individual cases,” said a spokesman.
Maggie Oliver, the detective who resigned from Greater Manchester Police and blew the whistle over the botched Rochdale inquiry, said the victims saw gang members in Rochdale on “a fairly regular basis”. She accused the Home Office of “not being straight” because of fears of a public backlash.
“It is really distressing for them. There’s nothing the girls can do. It’s disgraceful,” she said. “The process most of these girls have been through has led them to expect very, very little from the authorities. They expect nothing and are not disappointed. They have been failed again and again and again.”
Billy Howarth, the founder of Parents Against Grooming UK in Rochdale, said: “We demand an explanation as to why they have not been deported. People are going mad over it, especially [those]who live on the same streets.”
Nazir Afzal, the lawyer credited with pursuing the groomers, overturning an earlier decision not to prosecute, said: “I am concerned that, despite the efforts that have been made to ensure they are no longer a threat to women and girls in this country, they remain in this country and the process continues and is prolonged.”
The four men have joint British-pakistani citizenship which means UK citizenship can be removed without making them stateless. Although judges said the removal would not automatically lead to a deportation, it was “reasonable to assume” that it would be a prelude to their removal from the UK.
The men still have the right to challenge their deportation on the basis that removal from the UK would be a breach their human rights to have a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.