Council Leader responds to child sex abuse smears

Screenshot 2023-03-27 at 18.10.59
Oldham Council’s Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton has issued a public explanation over criticism of her own and the Labour Party’s handling of historic child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the Borough. A smear leaflet, of the genre that helped dislodge her two predecessors, Sean Fielding and Arooj Shah (read more here), has been circulated in her Royton South ward.
It is reproduced here, in full:
“I want to comment publicly on this matter because it’s come up a couple times on the doorstep this week from people who were understandably sceptical and asked me to explain, which I am more than happy to do.
“Given my position as Leader of the Council and the nature of debate and tactics of opposition parties in recent years in Oldham, it was always inevitable that I was going to be the target of highly personalised campaigned that was based around lies, half truths and actually very little about improving Royton.
“Inevitably this is around the issue of child sexual exploitation. There are a number of leaflets and an online campaign being spread about me by the opposition which contain a number of lies, mainly because they have nothing good to offer Royton so they scrape the bottom of the barrel with this nonsense. I find it unbelievable that people think it’s ok to use victims and survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) as a political football.
“Last year Oldham had an independent inquiry into historic CSE published and at one of the many opportunities for questioning on this I answered a question from another Councillor and what I said has been twisted and I apologise to any victims or survivors who have been impacted by this and for the ambiguity my words allowed.
“In the run up to the independent inquiry being published, and immediately after, I spoke with several survivors of CSE, some who were referenced in the report, and some who were not.
“What was universal from those conversations was the profound impact that abuse had on them and the continuing impact on them.
“What was not universal was the language in which they described it; some very openly talk about it destroying their lives while others explained to me that they do not like to use that language as they feel it gives too much power back to the abusers. The response to CSE from victims and survivors is complex and nuanced but unfortunately, we appear to have lost the ability for a nuanced debate, given how this agenda has been turned into a political football in recent years.
“Ultimately though, their story is not mine to tell, and I would never attempt to.
“You can see the full statement I made about this last year when the video began circulating online:…/status/1562162179826139138…
“I already know that this leaflet has made a number of people with experience of these matters upset and I’m really sorry that political point scoring has effectively re-traumatised you, I’m more than happy to have an honest conversation about stuff like this with people in Royton South over the next couple of days.
“I have been open and honest about our past failures in relation to CSE, our need to continue improving and the challenges we continue to face.
“On becoming Leader I said I would put children and young people at the heart of everything we do and I’ve been the leader that has invested an additional £15million into Children’s Services.
“For more information about support available to those affected by this issue or for guidance on how to report concerns about abuse please visit our website
or call our helpline 0161 770 1045″.

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Page last updated Wednesday 3rd May, 2023 at 0730hrs

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Published by Neil Wilby

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

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