De­por­ta­tion row over Rochdale sex gang

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Charles Hy­mas HOME AF­FAIRS EDI­TOR

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.

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