Another one bites the dust

In recent history, it is difficult to comprehend that any one person can have made as many unsuccessful complaints, to a wide variety of public bodies and statutory regulators, as Tameside’s notorious failed charity and free schools operator, Raja Miah.

These include numerous complaints by Miah, or in concert with his cohort, to Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP). Less frequently, to the Home Secretary, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (The Mayor’s administrative base), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, the Electoral Commission, the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority (SRA), the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the National Union of Journalists.

The list is non-exhaustive and, unless news of any success has been inadvertently missed, not a single complaint has ever been upheld. He is the very definition of a serial, vexatious complainant. Using public funds and resources, or member subscriptions, with hopelessly misconceived submissions, simply to smear his critics or opponents.

An angry, bitter, unemployed, victim-complexed conspiracy theorist, Miah lashes out at any individual or organisation who may venture to comment upon his many, and in some cases grotesque, business and organisational failings. However well grounded their account may be.

His Recusant Nine social media platforms are subject to frequent removal of podcasts or posts, or frequent bans, two of them lengthy in the past nine months. Of more concern, he is presently on court bail awaiting trial over harassment and malicious communication allegations that arise from his social media activity (read more here). Although, of course, presumption of innocence must apply in order to ensure that the proceedings are fair.

The most recent example of Raja Miah’s style of complaint, and its subsequent, peremptory dismissal by the public body to whom it was addressed, provides a fair insight into the inner workings of what is, on this evidence, the mind of a seriously evil individual.

This is the text of a  covering letter sent by him to the Borough Solicitor at Oldham Council, Paul Entwistle, dated 16th September, 2021, that carried a complaint form setting out allegations against one of its elected Members, Cllr Rosalynne Birch.

Ros, as she is much better known, was elected to serve the Waterhead ward in 2021 alongside two very experienced Labour colleagues, Cllr Riaz Ahmad and Cllr Peter Dean. She has quickly established herself as a popular, hard-working and effective member of the Labour group and the wider council.

The Raja Miah missive is, on any view, menacing and dripping with malice:

“Dear Mr Entwistle

“At what point will your politicians stop harassing me, a member of the public, for bring to public attention serious shortcomings within the Council? That this Councillor, is openly endorsing a fake account set up to harass me is outrageous.  Furthermore, this account only followed by 3 people, of which one is the malicious blogger NEIL WILBY, currently under investigation by GMP for claiming I am a police informant and posting a picture of my front door, is breathtaking, even for an Oldham Labour Councillor.

“I’m sure you would not appreciate me coming to your home, falsely claiming you are something that could get you killed, and posting a picture of you, as well as sharing details of where you live.

“I expect a full, unreserved apology, within 7 days from Cllr BIRCH. If I have not received this, I expect you to investigate as per your policy and be in no doubt that I also will take appropriate action.

Yours Sincerely

Raja Miah”

The specification of the complaints, such as they are, are in much the same tone but amount to little more than a series of untruths, wild assertions and a misconceived hypothesis:

“Cllr Birch is engaged in an online campaign of harassment towards me. I consider her motives to be racially motivated. Through her involvement with a fake profile, where she is only one of 3 followers, including the malicious blogger and proven liar NEIL WILBY, she is actively participating with a Twitter account that uses a photograph of myself as its profile.

“There can be no doubt that this is designed to cause me alarm and distress, and through her open endorsement of NEIL WILBY, currently under investigation by GMP for posting a picture of the front entrance of my home and repeatedly claiming that I am a police informant, thereby placing my life at risk, Cllr BIRCH is an active member of this unlawful and malicious campaign.

“Furthermore, as only 3 followers (of which one is a fake/anonymous account), I must surmise that Cllr BIRCH is in fact a ringleader.

“I thereby request that Oldham Council, especially following your recent update to your Members Code of Conduct, and previous motions on social media hate crime, immediately suspend and investigate this malicious individual.

“I have never met Cllr BIRCH, I have never issued any statement regarding her BUT if need be, I am more than prepared to escalate matters in kind.

“I will however, provide Cllr BIRCH to retract her support of this account and issue a full and unreserved public apology to me within 7 days of this complaint as an alternative resolution before I go public”.

The entirety of the ‘evidence’ that Raja Miah provided in support of his complaint is just two screenshots:

Screenshot 2022-02-12 at 19.34.44

Taken together, or individually, through the lens of this journalist at least, those two communications of his to the Council sail perilously close to the Communications Act, 2003 or Malicious Communications Act, 1998 winds. Enquiries are to be made of the Borough Solicitor and Council Leader as to whether they have been forwarded to the local police on that basis.

Nevertheless, Cllr Birch made her response to the Legal Services Department on 27th September, 2021:

To whom it may concern

“In response to the complaint levelled against me by Mr Raja Miah, received 20th September 2021, I would like to state that I refute all the claims made in his complaint.

“In my role as a Councillor, I do not believe there is any evidence of my involvement in an online campaign of harassment towards Mr Miah.  I also strongly deny that any involvement is racial motivated.  The professional roles I have undertaken and both my personal and professional relationships bear out my commitment to equality and diversity.  In fact, it is unlikely that I would have been selected as a candidate for the role of Councillor if there were any hint of racism in my personal and professional lives.

“Any associations mentioned by Mr Miah in his complaint are of a personal nature due to a mutual interest in Rugby League.

“I only have one online presence in which I communicate as a Councillor (RosBirch4Waterhead) on Facebook.  Any other presence I have is on a personal level and do not have any links to my role as a Councillor.

“In conclusion, I feel that Mr Miah’s complaint is unjustified and without any substance.  I believe that I have not broken the Members Code of Conduct in any way, but I am happy to engage with the process and provide any additional information that you may deem necessary to settle this matter.

“Kind regards

Ros Birch

Labour Councillor for Waterhead

Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care”

It was, by any measure, a calm and measured response. Particularly in the light of what was alleged against her.

The nature of the personal and professional relationship between the author of this piece, Neil Wilby, and Cllr Birch, is not a secret to anyone who follows Facebook or Twitter. There is nothing to hide. As Ros correctly states, they were drawn together by a shared, lifelong interest in rugby league. Alan Wilby was a Director of Castleford RLFC in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when a memorable father and son visit was made to Oldham’s Watersheddings ground to watch a Tuesday evening fixture played in horizontal sleet and biting cold.

Her partner, Stephen Hewitt, prominent in local politics for many years, is also a friend. As are another councillor/ex-councillor couple, drawn together on exactly the same rugby league footing, Adrian Alexander and Cllr Ginny Alexander. Again, no secret there. Adrian and Neil Wilby also played rugby under both codes in the same era.

Adrian Alexander Ginny Alexander Ros Birch at Oldham RLFC
Adrian and Ginny Alexander, with Ros Birch pictured at Oldham RLFC

Professionally, Cllr Birch and Neil Wilby, the journalist, have never interacted. The recent Civic Centre email trawl, following an alleged data leak to him from an official Oldham Council email address (read more here), will have underscored that. The same can be said of Cllr Alexander.

On 7th February, 2022, Assistant Borough Solicitor, Colin Brittain, wrote to Ros in these terms:

“Dear Cllr Birch

“I write to confirm that the Council’s Standards Assessment Sub-Committee met on 2nd February to consider the complaint made by Raja Miah on [16th September, 2021].

“The Sub-Committee determined that no action should be taken in respect of the complaint and this matter is, therefore, now concluded.

Regards

Colin Brittain”

There is no apology or explanation given to Cllr Birch for the delay in reaching such a decision on a complaint so utterly lacking in substance or merit. There is also no reason, or supporting narrative, given for the Committee’s decision. Which is not only in breach of good practice by a public, or decision making, body (read here), it is invalid in public law terms. If the complainant was minded to challenge the decision, for example by an application for judicial review, a court would direct, at the outset, that cogent reasons capable of challenge be given by Oldham Council. In this instance, however, such a dispute is very unlikely to arise.

Also, the fact that Neil Wilby, absolutely central in the allegations purportedly made against Cllr Birch but, in reality, very largely intended to smear him, was not contacted by the Council’s Legal Services Department, to provide a response or evidence, might be viewed as failing to follow any recognisable investigatory or decision-making process at its highest, disrespectful and discourteous at its lowest. Criticisms that align with those raised elsewhere about the handling of Standards complaints, very recently, in a leaked section of the Oldham Child Sexual Exploitation Assurance Review (read more here).

So, absent of analysis from the Council, it falls to the author of this article to address the Raja Miah claims, their substance and merit.

Taking each of the points in turn:

A. The accompanying letter

(i) At what point will your politicians stop harassing me, a member of the public….

– Raja Miah has many issues and key to most of them is his constant vacillation between victim and saviour complexes. But the easy way to dismiss this point is by reference to his Recusant Nine strap-line and the constant exhortation of his supporters: ‘Do Not Fear Them, Do Not Fear Any of Them’.

– There is also the issue of his own relentless harassment and defamation of a large number of elected Members and paid officers at Oldham Council.

– He does not present himself as an ordinary member of the public. Ever. He is Raja Miah MBE, the great saviour who is going to rescue ‘my townsfolk’ (in Oldham where he doesn’t live) from the tyranny of Asian cartels, mobsters, gangsters, Pakistani goons, paedophile protectors, compliant journalists and corrupt cops. Single handedly.

(ii) ….for bring (sic) to public attention serious shortcomings within the Council?

– Miah makes many claims of wrongdoing on his various platforms, almost invariably with little or no substance, sometimes based on bare-faced lies. The problem being is that any valid claim he may make is drowned out by the falsehoods. Regarded as a trouble-causing crank, his credibility is non-existent.

(iii) this Councillor, is openly endorsing a fake account set up to harass me is outrageous.

– It is unclear how following a Twitter account amounts to ‘openly endorsing’ and there is no evidence provided, whatsoever, of the claimed harassment.

(iv) this account only followed by 3 people, of which one is the malicious blogger NEIL WILBY,

– The fact that the witty, ostensibly well-informed ‘OldhamFly’ is followed by 3 or 3,000 Twitter users is irrelevant. If the content is interesting or useful to another platform user that is entirely a matter for them. Much as he would like to be, Miah is not the Twitter Police.

– The repeated use of the defamatory term ‘malicious blogger’ by Miah has been dealt with elsewhere on this website (read here). That is, of itself, both harassing and plainly calculated, by him, to vex and annoy Neil Wilby to the extent that he will give up reporting on matters pertaining to the Borough of Oldham or the wider Greater Manchester Region. It is a ploy that has, so far, been notably unsuccessful.

(v) currently under investigation by GMP for claiming I am a police informant and posting a picture of my front door, is breathtaking, even for an Oldham Labour Councillor.

– There is, and never was, such an investigation. GMP has dealt with the issue of why they consider Raja Miah to be a ‘police informant’ and he chose to publicly display that on his own platform when complaining bitterly about the ‘gatekeeping’ role of Detective Inspector Kenneth Blain in it. The post has since been removed from Recusant Nine, either voluntarily or following a complaint. DI Blain was subjected to a sustained, and particularly unpleasant, campaign of harassment against him, by Miah for a lengthy period afterwards. The issue of Rajas Miah’s address and picture of his front door has also been dealt with, repeatedly, elsewhere. In short, the subject picture is a blurred long-shot of a building facade that features a communal front door, that another Twitter user chose as his avatar. The prospects of that being used as a means of locating Raja Miah for the purpose of doing him harm, or murdering him as he dramatically claims, are non-existent. Conversely, his full address, and postcode, could be located by a contract killer, using a Google search, in less than 30 seconds.

– Subsequently, and a clear indicator that GMP do not consider him or his property to be at risk, his address has also been shared by the police when the press were notified of the fact that he had been charged with two criminal offences. It has now appeared, of course, in the local and regional press yet, miraculously, Miah remains fit and well.

(vi) I’m sure you would not appreciate me coming to your home, falsely claiming you are something that could get you killed, and posting a picture of you, as well as sharing details of where you live.

– No-one connected to Cllr Birch or Neil Wilby has been to Miah’s home, or threatened to do so, apart from six police officers in a dawn raid in July, 2021, otherwise, no doubt, it would have been shouted from his Mossley rooftop. Conversely, he has said that if Wilby attends the property, legitimately, to conduct an interview or ‘doorstep’ Miah, ‘he will leave in a body bag’.

(vii) I expect a full, unreserved apology, within 7 days from Cllr BIRCH. If I have not received this, I expect you to investigate as per your policy and be in no doubt that I also will take appropriate action.

– No apology was offered by Cllr Birch, nor was one ever likely. An investigation (of sorts) has taken place but there has been no announcement of ‘appropriate action’ from Miah or indication as to what it might be.

B. The complaint form

(i) Cllr Birch is engaged in an online campaign of harassment towards me. I consider her motives to be racially motivated. Through her involvement with a fake profile, where she is only one of 3 followers, including the malicious blogger and proven liar NEIL WILBY, she is actively participating with a Twitter account that uses a photograph of myself as its profile.

– There are tens, or maybe even hundreds, of thousands of fake profiles or parody accounts on Twitter. Some run exclusively for the benefit of Raja Miah and the group of his supporters whom self-style as The Rabble. The most notorious of which is the recently departed fake medical doctor and Miah cultist, ‘Emily Barnes’. GMP is presently seized of that matter. It is unclear, and the framing of the complaint and lack of evidence does not assist, as to how following a social media account equates to ‘harassment’. He does not point to a single post by ‘OldhamFly’ that is remotely offensive.

– Playing the race card is something that Raja Miah does often. It has no basis here in facts or evidence. You would travel a very long way to find an individual, or councillor, as diverse and inclusive as Cllr Ros Birch.

(ii) There can be no doubt that this is designed to cause me alarm and distress, and through her open endorsement of NEIL WILBY, currently under investigation by GMP for posting a picture of the front entrance of my home and repeatedly claiming that I am a police informant, thereby placing my life at risk, Cllr BIRCH is an active member of this unlawful and malicious campaign.

– Again the burden of proof falls on the complainant – and he fails miserably. He does not state how or why he is caused alarm or distress, the source of the malice, the nature of the lawlessness, and the specific evidence behind it, or how Cllr Birch’s ‘open endorsement’ of Neil Wilby could add to that. The matter of the false claim about a police investigation is dealt with earlier in this piece.

– There is also the issue of locus, which is determinative in the case of Standards complaints made to Oldham Council. The burden falls on the complainant to prove that the subject of his, or her, complaints is acting in an official capacity, that is to say as an elected councillor. Plainly, Ros Birch was not. She was using her personal social media account, as she does on Facebook, and exercising her article 10 Convention Rights.

(iii) Furthermore, as only 3 followers (of which one is a fake/anonymous account), I must surmise that Cllr BIRCH is in fact a ringleader.

– When making a complaint of any type, surmising or assuming or asserting is a waste of ink and paper. Decision makers consider facts and evidence. Setting that apart, Miah’s ‘ringleader’ surmise is so far-fetched as to be utterly risible.

(iv) I thereby request that Oldham Council, especially following your recent update to your Members Code of Conduct, and previous motions on social media hate crime, immediately suspend and investigate this malicious individual.

– Did Raja Miah seriously believe, not least set against his own perennially disgraced social media output, that this complaint even remotely merited suspension from her council duties? Outside of The Rabble he is very likely to be in a minority of one.

(v) I have never met Cllr BIRCH, I have never issued any statement regarding her BUT if need be, I am more than prepared to escalate matters in kind.

– Taken at its face, this amounts to a threat to deliberately set out to harass Cllr Birch and should, in all truth, have become a police matter. Raja Miah has plenty of ‘previous’ for this class of behaviour, freely available to anyone who spends more than 5 minutes on his Recusant Nine page..

(vi) I will however, provide Cllr BIRCH to retract her support of this account and issue a full and unreserved public apology to me within 7 days of this complaint as an alternative resolution before I go public.

– As dealt with above the matter of an apology doesn’t arise and there has been no inkling yet of Miah ‘going public’. This article may prompt him to do so, of course.

Conclusion

As referenced above, Raja Miah has made no reference, whatsoever, to either the making of the complaint or the subsequent the decision of the Council, on his Recusant Nine platform. He would have been notified of the outcome at the same as Cllr Birch. Nor has there been any notification to Ros, from the Council, of any any other ‘appropriate action’ or ‘escalation’ that has been taken. Nothing.

In the same way that he has not commented upon the decision by GMP not to pursue his ludicrous, and repeated, complaints against Neil Wilby. Or the ruthless exposure of many of his other shortcomings elsewhere on this website, most notably a piece headlined, ‘Get The White Vote Angry‘ in which he is exposed as a persistent, mendacious liar monetising the grief or pain of others (read here).

All in all, this is another startling example of abuse of a public authority complaints system and it should, in all truth, have been dealt with much more robustly, and swiftly, by Oldham Council.

Raja Miah has declined all previous offers of right of reply via conventional means, preferring to make comment via his own platform post-publication.

Ros Birch, who is a well respected Education Professional by vocation, working with young people to improve their employability, and personal development skills, in order to enhance their life chances, has expressed her relief that the ordeal of being under investigation by her own Council is over but has questioned with the Borough Solicitor why the Miah communications were not reported to the police. She is, however, now focused on what she does best and enjoys most, doing all she can for residents in her ward.

A measure of her professionalism, and the fact that the friendship with Neil Wilby is around sport and other shared interests, and not council business, is that the first inkling of this complaint against her came when she shared the decision letter with him.

The Twitter account ‘OldhamFly’ (now followed by a fake LeedsLive journalist account whom gives his address as Neil Wilby’s former home postcode) commented:

“Oh that’s [the article is] interesting. I don’t recall the last time I had any interaction with Miah and am more an observer of his online antics. His main gripe appears to be that I’m followed by a councillor, of which I was unaware. For someone who gives it out, he’s a delicate soul”.

A series of questions regarding the Standards process, and the issue of police involvement, has been put to Oldham Council press office.

1. An explanation as to how a complaint entirely lacking substance and merit took 5 months to determine its outcome.

2. Why was no such explanation or, at the very least, an apology tendered to Cllr Birch for the delay?

3. Why was the decision provided to Cllr Birch not accompanied by reasons or any other form of narrative.

4. In view of their menacing, threatening nature, particularly the overt threat to harass Cllr Birch, were the police informed by the Monitoring Officer of the communications sent by Mr Miah to the Council?

5. If not, an explanation for such an omission and who took the decision to overlook such a very serious matter. Particularly, in the light of Mr Miah’s ‘previous’, to use the vernacular, and the fact that he was on pre-charge bail over similar offences (for which he now awaits criminal trial).

The response amounted to just seventeen words:

A spokesperson for Oldham Council said: “The Members’ Standards process is confidential and we are therefore unable to comment further on these matters.”

Further clarification has been sought, and received, from the Council Leader and Chief Executive. However, given what was shared, result matters are, for the moment at least, being allowed to take their course.

Page last updated at 1145hrs on Thursday 17th February, 2022

Thank you for reading and a polite request: If you wish to make a contribution to the running costs of this website it would be very much appreciated. Donations can made securely, via PayPal at this link.

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.

Photo credit: Oldham Times

© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. 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, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

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

3 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: