Oldham’s controversial Child Sexual Exploitation Assurance Review, commissioned in January 2020 by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is still not complete: Consultations with at least one key stakeholder are still not finalised as at today (7th June, 2022), writes Neil Wilby.
In his last update, provided on 2nd May, 2022, via a statement published on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority website, the Mayor said that the Review would be published ‘within eight weeks’ of that date.
A well placed source says that the target date for publication, at that time, was 20th June, 2022 and that it is still feasible for publication, and the attendant press conference, to take place on that day. A special meeting of Oldham Council make take place the following week.
A provisional copy of the full report, compiled by two of the country’s leading experts in this field, Malcolm Newsam and Gary Ridgway, has been in very restricted circulation for some weeks.
Stakeholders were supplied with provisional copies of the chapter(s) of the report relevant to them, in January 2022, as part of the final consultation process. This led, in one case in particular, to new lines of enquiry being opened up and further evidence from victims/survivors being taken. It is also understood that there were, at that time, ongoing and unresolved disclosure and data protection issues with Greater Manchester Police.
This all meant that one of many promised dates for publication, week commencing 24th March, 2022, was missed. A situation generally accepted by all, including the country’s best known CSE campaigner, Maggie Oliver. The exceptions being a group of rabid cultists that surround a disgraced conspiracy theorist based in Mossley, Tameside, Raja Miah.
This group, who self-style as The Rabble (or Raja’s Rabble) now includes at least five elected Members who sit on Oldham Council. At least three from the Failsworth Independent Party (plus their Party Chair), recently pegged as a haven for the Far Right by Hope Not Hate (read more here) and at least two Conservative Councillors, Lewis Quigg and Robert Barnes (read more here).
The final report of the Oldham Strand of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Child Sexual Exploitation Assurance Review (to give its full title) is expected to fully debunk Miah’s main attack lines: (i) That leading Labour Party figures on Oldham Council, together with senior paid officers covered up CSE in exchange for Asian block votes in local and general elections (ii) an email sent by a BBC Manchester reporter, Kevin Fitzpatrick, in which it was agreed to delay reporting of an ongoing covert police investigation into alleged CSE in shisha bars in Oldham (widely referred to by Miah and The Rabble as the ‘Lee Rigby email’) was proof of a wide-scale multi-agency cover-up, led by the Oldham Council leader at the time, Jim McMahon. Now the MP for Oldham and Royton West – and Shadow Environment Minister.
Very much in line with an article published elsewhere on this website in November, 2020, headlined ‘Get The White Vote Angry‘ in which those two conspiracy theories are dealt with in considerable and forensic detail (read in full here).
The Oldham Strand of the Assurance Review was brought about by the then Leader of Oldham Council, Sean Fielding, and Henri Giller, Chair of Oldham Child Safeguarding Partnership, who wrote jointly to the Mayor and Jane Shuttleworth, Chair of the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Standards Board to request a merging of the Council’s own investigations around the myriad Raja Miah allegations into the wider Independent Review being conducted by Messrs Newsam and Ridgway.
Malcolm Newsam, a former commissioner for social care in Rotherham, and Gary Ridgway, a former Detective Superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police, were appointed to head up the review team. It has been confirmed that they are examining evidence from as far back as 2006 and as recently as 2017. Their team reports directly to the Deputy Mayor, Baroness Beverley Hughes, in relation to progress and outcomes
They were the same team behind the widely acclaimed, excoriating report into Operation Augusta, released in January, 2020, which looked at the handling of CSE by the police, councils and social services in Rochdale and Rusholme in South Manchester (The Curry Mile).
Mr Newsam wrote to the Greater Manchester Mayor at the end of April, 2022 in these terms: “You will be aware that further significant information was brought forward to the review team following the fair process consultation. The review team has been taking further evidence to consider these issues.
“We have also been supplied with copies of a substantial amount of documentary information and have analysed this prior to finalising our conclusions,” Mr Newsam adds. “We have throughout March and April undertaken a full review of all relevant records held by Greater Manchester Police and cross checked these against the evidence we have received from elsewhere. This piece of work is nearing completion.
Mr Newsam added: “I would anticipate if all this proceeds as planned the fair process letters should be dispatched before the end of May which will allow for publication before the end of June.”
The Terms of Reference for the Oldham CSE Review can be read in full here.
A parallel investigation, Operation Hexagon, was opened in November, 2019 by Greater Manchester Police to also look at online allegations of child sexual exploitation in Oldham. In July, 2021, Raja Miah was arrested in a dawn raid on his home as part of that same investigation. He faces a trial at Manchester Magistrates’ Court in August, 2022 over a charge of harassment. He denies any wrongdoing, claiming his arrest is politically motivated (read more here), and pleaded not guilty at a hearing at Tameside Magistrates’ Court in March, 2022.
Page last updated `Wednesday 8th June, 2022 at 1745hrs
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