Tories stonewall enquiries over alleged links to disgraced activist

Oldham Conservatives

In an article first published elsewhere on this website on 9th October, 2021 (read more here), it was exclusively revealed that a disgraced political activist from Tameside, Greater Manchester, was claiming affinity with, and support from, members of the Oldham and Saddleworth Conservative Federation.

Raja Miah, presently on police bail over suspicions of racially aggravated public order and malicious communications offences, named two of them in a podcast on his tainted, and frequently banned, Recusant Nine platform: They are Lewis Quigg and Khazir Rehman.

The latter is a well known former Labour Party councillor in Oldham, who was singled out for special praise by Miah. ‘Kaiser’, to give him his more familiar name, is said to have provided a pivotal piece of advice in an information rights appeal that Miah described as ‘a victory over tyranny’.

34 years old Khazir Rehman was recently convicted at Tameside Magistrates’ Court of harassing another Labour councillor, Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE  and received a suspended jail sentence. He runs his own property and PR consultancy. There is no obvious reason why he would be regarded as an information rights expert.

Lewis Quigg, who is Chairman of the Oldham and Saddleworth Conservatives has stood, unsuccessfully, as a local council candidate in a number of Oldham wards over the past ten years. He is a confirmed Raja Miah supporter. His main claim to fame is assumed responsibility for circulating a Conservative Party leaflet featuring three deceased Oldham councillors in the Crompton ward that he was contesting in the May 2021 elections. He refused to answer repeated press requests for comment over the crass, shameful incident.

On social media, Kaiser, who asserts he is no longer a friend of Miah, has refused to say whether Quigg was the conduit, or whether another Tory was involved – and to what the ‘legal advice’, relating to the Freedom of Information Act, actually amounted. 

The previously close association between Rehman and Miah included their appearance together on one of Recusant Nine’s notorious, and inflammatory, Sunday night podcasts. They both share the distinction of leaving the local Labour Party very much under a cloud.

Relations have cooled, however, since Kaiser called out the BIG LIE in the Miah political narrative. Which is the core proposition that Oldham’s Labour councillors, paid officers, the police and their partner agencies all conspired together to cover up child sexual exploitation in return for Asian block votes in local and general elections (read more here). The conspirators would, of course, have included Kaiser himself as a councillor at the material time, if there was any merit at all in Miah’s evidence-free allegations.

Another regular and avid proponent of the Miah narrative is another Conservative Party member, Liam Billington. The Stalybridge South member of Tameside Borough Council recently attracted a series of lurid headlines in the local and regional press over allegations by fellow councillors over whether he wanted to be respected as an elected member or a Twitter troll. 

On 15th October, 2021 a press enquiry was made to the two Oldham Metropolitan Borough councillors who are nominated as Conservative Group press contacts by their Leader, Graham Sheldon. Dave Arnott and Luke Lancaster. To avoid any misunderstanding, or misrepresentation, this is the full text of the email:  

“I am a freelance journalist whom, as you may know, has been active in Oldham for the past 15 months or so (credentials attached).

“Firstly, may I say how sorry I am at the death of your fellow Conservative, Sir David Amess, yesterday.

“Universally popular across all the parties, it is a sad loss in the most tragic of circumstances. The warmest tributes to him, from all walks of life, tell their own story.

“In the current toxic political climate in Oldham, it is a huge blessing that such a heinous act was not committed in the Borough.

“The person largely responsible for that poison is, of course, Raja Miah. Who claimed earlier this week on his Recusant Nine platform that the support of Conservatives was decisive in securing an upheld appeal in a first tier information rights tribunal.

“May I please clarify if there is any official endorsement, or other link-up, between either Recusant Nine or the party he co-founded with ex-Cllr Mohib Uddin, in April 2019, now known as Proud Of Oldham and Saddleworth and fronted by Paul Errock and Sarah Shilton?

“Mr Miah’s posts normally contain a minimum of one lie, often a whole litany of them, and the working hypothesis is that he sees some sort of personal, or political, gain in alluding to such an association.

“Thank you in anticipation. If you feel a phone call would be more prescriptive, my number is [redacted].

“Please be assured, also, that I am politically independent, both personally and professionally. I have no affiliation to any party, whatsoever. Despite what others may assert.

“This is the piece that I published earlier this week to which any comment the Conservatives wish to make would be added:

“Do not Fear Them. Do Not Fear Any of Them”

“As a courtesy, I have copied in Cllr Sheldon whom, in correspondence last month on another matter, directed me to the two of you as the Members responsible for media enquiries to the Oldham Conservative Group”.

That communication did not even receive the professional courtesy of an acknowledgement. Surprising, one might say, and not least in the light of complaints made by Cllr Sheldon in a recent Full Council meeting about his own emails not being answered (read more here). The fact that Deputy Leader, Beth Sharp, is a senior caseworker for sitting Stoke-on-Trent North MP,  Jonathan Gullis, should also have elevated the importance of an unequivocal reply. 

The enquiry is straightforward enough and is of substantial public interest. Sufficiently so for it to be escalated to national level.

A second email was sent earlier today (19th) in these terms:

“In the absence of acknowledgement or substantive response to the below email, I will now take up the matter with both Conservative Party HQ and Downing Street press offices.

“It is a matter of very significant public interest, as you may appreciate. Not least because of the latest material posted and broadcast on the Recusant Nine platforms over the weekend”.

The fruit of those further enquiries, which will very likely elicit a response from the communications professionals in the Conservative Party, will be posted here.

In the meantime, a response was, belatedly, received from Cllr Arnott, after consultation with Cllr Lancaster. This in summary is the position of the Oldham and Saddleworth Tories:

“Can I take this opportunity to thank you for your kind words regarding Sir David Amess MP, and the very sad events of 15 October. It is a difficult time for all members of the Conservative Party.

“The ongoing issues between Mr Miah, and others, and Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council are long standing, complex and well known, to a greater or lesser degree, to many residents in Oldham”.

“I thank you for your courtesy, and opportunity to respond to the latest developments, but at this time, The Oldham and Saddleworth Conservative Association, and the Oldham Conservative Councillors Group on OMBC, do not wish to make any comment“.

Page last updated: Tuesday 19th October, 2021 at 1925 hours

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

This article contains public sector information licensed under Open Government Licence v3.0 (read more here).

© Neil Wilby 2015-2020. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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