At a meeting of Full Council in Oldham last night it was heard, during an answer to a question from a member of the public, that the Home Office had replied to a letter from the local Liberal Democrats and turned down their request for a public inquiry into grotesque child sexual exploitation (CSE) failings by the police and the council (read more here).
Both Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, the Oldham LibDem Leader (and Leader of the Opposition on the Council) and a group of four Oldham Conservatives (out of the nine who sit on the Council) say they wrote within a day of one another in July, 2022 seeking the same probe. Cllr Sykes published a copy his letter, the Tories didn’t.
This followed the publication on 20th June, 2022 of a controversial, much delayed CSE Assurance Review by a specialist team appointed by the Greater Manchester Mayor in January, 2020. The report has been very widely criticised, as has the Oldham Labour Party’s determination not to look further, and carefully, into its very obvious shortcomings (read more here).
Two stormy Council meetings, along with appalling scenes of public disorder, within the previous month, had seen the nett result of the ruling Labour Group vote down a motion seeking such an inquiry and the Council’s senior paid officers and the report’s authors, Malcolm Newsam MBE and Gary Ridgway, either refuse to answer questions or give partial or inadequate answers.
This has given ample fuel for the conspiracy theory fires which crackle and blaze locally, with more than enough justification, to the sound and sight of ‘cover-up’. An unfortunate situation, self-created by Labour, whose politicians and former Leader, Jim McMahon MP, were both emphatically cleared of the core allegation investigated by Newsam and Ridgway: That the local Labour Party had covered up child sex abuse by grooming gangs in return for Asian block votes at local and general elections.
The Oldham Conservatives, riven with internal strife and persistent talks of a breakaway from their Saddleworth counterparts, have remained silent over the response to their letter by the Home Secretary. Doubts have lingered, and been widely expressed on social media, as to whether they actually sent a letter at all – and alternative propositions, that they were either jumping on the Liberal Democrats bandwagon, or trying to steal their thunder, or simply grandstanding, have been advanced (read more here).
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary on whose behalf the reply to the LibDem letter was sent, was unceremoniously sacked by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, earlier this week. She has been replaced by the Attorney General, Suella Braverman MP.
The Liberal Democrats whip in Oldham, Cllr Mark Kenyon, kindly provided sight of the Home Office letter in response to a press request. Of particular interest, of course, is the extensive reasons given for the refusal to order an inquiry. The letter, signed off by Amanda Solloway MP, can be read in full here.
Page last updated Thursday 8th September, 2022 at 0600hrs
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