ROCHDALE’S former council leader LIED under oath regarding child sexual abuse that was rampant in the Northern English town.
An independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said former Council leader Richard Farnell lied under oath when he claimed to have known nothing about abuse 25 years ago.
The inquiry said the evidence given Farnell about his knowledge of abuse in the town “defied belief.”
Greater Manchester Police said it was considering launching a perjury investigation following the revelations.
The report, the inquiry’s first into abuse in the UK, follows three weeks of evidence about allegations dating from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s.
It concluded there was no deliberate cover-up by the authorities but there was “a careless and wholly inadequate response” to the serious sexual abuse of children at the council-run Knowl View school.
Prof Alexis Jay, the chair 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.”
Farnell was the leader of Rochdale council between 1986 and 1992, and returned to the job in 2014 after a career in journalism.
He resigned as council leader on 8 December after weeks of pressure over his testimony in October.
Farnell told the inquiry he first heard of sexual abuse claims in 2012 when the scandal erupted. However, the inquiry said it defied belief that Farnell did not know about them earlier.
It was shameful, the inquiry said, that Farnell “refused to accept any personal responsibility for the young lives blighted” while he was leader. “Instead, he blamed senior officials in education and social services council departments.”
In a statement, Farnell said he was shocked at the findings and added that there was clear evidence he was not informed about Knowl View during his time as leader. “I told the truth,” he said.
The 156-page report concluded that Rochdale authorities showed a total lack of urgency in addressing the sexual exploitation of boys at Knowl View, who were regarded as “authors of their own abuse”.
Pupils were sexually exploited in the town centre, the bus station and at public toilets across the road from the council’s offices over a 20-year period, it found.
Richard Scorer, a solicitor at the Manchester law firm Slater & Gordon who represented victims at the inquiry, said the findings were a powerful indictment of decades of failure. “This report is very damning and a huge vindication of the men who have been making these complaints over many years. Some go back to the 1960s, and they’ve been doing so consistently.”
UKIP’s Leader Gerard Batten said: “We have still to uncover and understand the full extent of these crimes, and what is still going on.
“A recurring theme in these abuse and sex slavery cases is that they are predominantly happening in Labour-controlled local authorities. The police, social services, and Labour have all failed the most vulnerable members of our society – children.
“In particular in Rochdale, it has been shown that an arch-perpetrator of these crimes, Cyril Smith, was protected from prosecution. We need to know why.”
Parts of this Article courtesy of The Guardian