A post appeared on the Manchester Evening News website yesterday evening with broadly the same headline. But it is not a story I would have run, writes Neil Wilby, even though I’m adjacent to much the same facts and, like the MEN reporter, whom I admire and respect greatly, know the name of the subject councillor.
As it stands, there are 38 male councillors in the Oldham Metropolitan Borough who have not been arrested and bailed under suspicion of rape – and upon whom suspicion now falls. Many of them long-serving elected Members and, more importantly, with families.
That, through the eyes of this journalist, and even after making due allowance for the very significant public interest, is manifestly unfair.
In the darker corners of the borough’s internet, speculation is already rife as to the identity of the councillor and on one routinely disgraced and banned page, Recusant Nine, a safe haven for some of Oldham’s worst racists and far right activists, commentators are encouraged to believe it is an Asian Labour councillor at the centre of the controversy.
My own enquiries and dialogue with both the press offices of Greater Manchester Police and the Council are still in train and when those are completed, and with the overarching principle of innocent until proven guilty very much front of mind, a decision will be made how best to serve that public interest, whilst preserving the integrity of the police investigation, the wellbeing and safeguarding of the alleged victim and the rights of those councillors not involved in it.
Page last updated Friday 23rd September, 2022 at 1510hrs
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