Legal letter stuns Party Leaders into silence

On 27th April, 2021, an article published elsewhere on this website (read in full here), and headlined ‘A Dirty Business‘, revealed, exclusively, an acrimonious dispute between the Leader of Oldham Metropolitan District Council and a fledgling political party in his local ward, writes Neil Wilby.

Just a couple of days earlier, the sniping on the doorsteps of the two wards in Failsworth, East and West, and on social media, had reached fever pitch. The Failsworth Independent Party (FIPs) issued a Statement on their official website, and on their Party Facebook page, attacking Cllr Sean Fielding, the aforementioned Leader, and his activists, over what they considered to be a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign.

It was on much the same theme as a podcast released by the FIPs a week earlier.

A letter amplifying those claims was hand delivered to Cllr Fielding’s home on the morning of 24th April, 2021.

Cllr Fielding, who is also Labour Party Leader for the Oldham Borough, is one of three incumbents in the West ward and is up for re-election in the poll set to be decided on Thursday 6th May, 2021. He is opposed by, amongst others, Mark Wilkinson, whom not only represents the FIPs as a candidate, he is married to its Chairperson and driving force, Kathleen Wilkinson.

It is obvious to most observers, with even a passing knowledge of Failsworth’s local affairs, that there is bad blood between the Wilkinsons and Sean Fielding. Much of the criticism of the country’s youngest council leader, by a group attaching itself to the FIPs, is highly personalised and, in the cold light of day, lacks substance or an evidential foundation.

The same can be said of the FIPs Statement. Made even more surprising when one considers that Mark Wilkinson was a police officer for 32 years.

Both before, and after, the publication of ‘A Dirty Business‘ Mark and Kath Wilkinson were both, publicly and privately, asked to back up the claims made in their Statement. A lot of it simply didn’t ring true to an investigative journalist. The ensuing silence has been deafening and, since the article appeared, they have not referred to that Statement since. In public, at least.

In that same article, Cllr Fielding, as part of his right to reply, provided a brief but firm rebuttal to the allegations and, further, indicated that matter had been referred to a solicitor for a full dissemination.

This is the full text of the resultant lawyer’s letter, dated 30th April, 2021, and emailed to the FIPs on the same day.

It was provided by Cllr Sean Fielding, upon request, with no restrictions on its reproduction here. It significantly aids understanding of the matters in issue, between the warring factions, and its release very much serves the public interest.

It was addressed to Kathleen Wilkinson, Chairperson, at the Party’s registered address.

“Dear Sirs

Re: Our Client Sean Fielding

We act for the Association of Labour Councillors and have been approached by Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, for assistance.

We have been shown a copy of your letter dated 24th April 2021.

Your letter asks that our client “treat this letter as a Cease and Desist Action”. It goes on to say that “this is in accordance with Electoral Code of Conduct for campaigners”.

The next paragraph reads: the Legislation states that during the campaign period a campaigner must not “knowingly make a false statement about the character of a candidate”. It is clear you [Cllr Fielding] have contravened this rule.

Your letter to our client is very puzzling both in its language and its intentions but we will attempt to answer the claims set out in that letter as they are presented.

You have referred to the “Electoral Code of Conduct for campaigners” and a “Cease and Desist Action”. It would appear that you have conflated two different procedures. A “cease and desist” letter would normally be sent as a precursor to warn that a claim in defamation was contemplated. However, you make no mention of such of claim in your letter of 24th April.

If you seek to rely on this letter as a Pre-Action Letter we must advise that the letter fails at all levels to comply with the protocol referred to as the Pre-Action Protocol for Media & Communication Claims. Therefore, we cannot treat this letter as a Pre Action letter in defamation nor make the required response in accordance with the protocol.

You refer to “The legislation” and we must assume that you refer to the Representation of the People Act, 1983.

We make this assumption because you use the words “make a false statement about the character of a candidate”. However, you have misquoted the legislation which you consider applies to the purported actions of our client in relation to Mark Wilkinson and the Failsworth Independent Party.

We refer you to the Representation of the People Act, 1983, Section 106: False Statements as the Candidate, paragraph 1: a person who or any director of any body or association corporates which – (a) before or during the election; (b) for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election make or publishes any false statement or facts in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he has reasonable grounds for believing and did believe that statement to be true.

You can see, from the wording of this section of the Act, that it is very limited in its relevance and, thus, very difficult to demonstrate that it is applicable. We refer you to the Phil Woolas case in 2010. In that case, the judgment set out the clear interpretation of this Section 106. Mr Justice Teare’s judgement suggested that in order to prove that a statement is in contravention of Section 106 it is vital to ask the following four questions:-

  1. Has a statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate in an election been made
  2. Is that statement false?
  3. Does the person making the statement believe it is true?
  4. Did he have reasonable grounds to believe it was true when he made it?

We would robustly defend any allegation made under Section 106 of the RPA 1983 against our client, Councillor Fielding, relying on these criteria. If the answers to questions 3 and 4 can be answered positively as we believe they can, such a case against our client would fail.

Your request is in 3 parts. You say that:
1) our client has referred to the Failsworth Independent Party as a racist party 2) our client has said your candidate Mark Wilkinson is a racist.

However, in your letter of 24th April 2021 you have provided no reliable evidence to substantiate these two claims. In addition, section 106 of the Act applies only to the personal character or conduct of a candidate, therefore statements about political parties do not fall within its remit.

For a successful prosecution under Section 106 of the 1983 Act you would have to demonstrate with evidence that our client and his “campaigners” have referred to Mark Wilkinson as racist. You have not provided such evidence and we consider that none exists. Secondly, you would have to demonstrate that such a statement was false. Thirdly, you would need to prove that our client did not believe that this was a true statement and finally that he had no reasonable grounds to believe that that was true.

Towards the end of your letter you say “as a seasoned campaigner you should be aware that your actions “do not bring into question the integrity of the electoral process”. We assume there is, in there, somewhere, a typographical error which, if corrected, would make sense of this sentence.

Further your letter states “whilst out campaigning on the doorstep of a Failsworth resident, it was falsely stated that Mark Wilkinson had assaulted your father – Mr Stuart Fielding”.

You have failed to provide details of this allegation to facilitate a proper response. However, we refer you to the count on the evening of the Failsworth by-election on the 29 November 2018. Our client’s father was in conversation with Mr Wilkinson who, apparently, became irritated and grabbed his father’s arm. Our understanding is that our client’s father approached the police present to state that Mr Wilkinson had attempted to assault him. We understand that no formal report was made.

We consider that this will be ample evidence to demonstrate that in fact our client did believe that Mr Wilkinson had assaulted his father and he had reasonable grounds to believe so.

In the interest of openness and transparency, we put you on notice that our client has been in discussions with Greater Manchester Police about pursuing a criminal harassment complaint against individuals, including Mr Wilkinson. This is in connection with [an alleged] 3 year defamatory social media smear and harassment campaign against our client.

Finally, in response to your letter of 24th April, we aver that none of our client’s actions have brought, or are likely to bring, into question the integrity of the electoral process and we insist that you cease and desist from making such scurrilous allegations against him forthwith.

Yours faithfully

Edwards Duthie Shamash

Ends”

As legal responses go, that is definitely in the ‘very robust’ category. It also highlights how seriously misconceived, and amateurish, the FIPs Statement was. Both in its construction and intent.

Regrettably, it once again highlights poor conduct from Mark Wilkinson (read more here) and aligns with feedback from two officers who worked with him during his time as a detective in nearby Chadderton and at Ashton-under-Lyne.

Underscored by a highly respected police station solicitor whom, also, encountered him in that era. All three characterised ‘Wilkie’ as an arrogant, boorish individual of, seemingly, limited ability. If a view to counterbalance those can be found, it (or they) will be published in an update to this piece.

On the very clear evidence of recent Twitter exchanges, and as set out in the ‘Barking Up The Wrong Tree’ article, Mark has a non-exclusive relationship with the truth.

As the Twitter post posits, the fitness for public office of Wilkinson is now very much open to question. His claims of openness, transparency and integrity now lying in tatters and a matter for the local electorate of Failsworth West to reflect upon.

Up to the time of publication of this article, shortly after the polls closed, no reply from the Wilkinsons had been received by Cllr Fielding’s solicitors.

The Failsworth Independent Party have again been offered right to reply to this article, via and email sent to their Chairperson and Mark Wilkinson. A number of questions were also put to them:

1. In the light of the contents of the solicitor’s letter written on behalf of Cllr Fielding will you:

a. Be withdrawing your Statement published on 24th April?

b. Or amending it?

c. Making a public apology to Cllr Fielding?

d. Publish the solicitor’s letter on your Facebook page and or on your website?

e. Be replying to the letter?

2. On your website, and elsewhere, Failsworth Independent Party make claims regarding ‘integrity, openness and transparency’. 

That is plainly and demonstrably a false claim to make. Therefore:

a. Can you please provide a date by which the relevant lozenge on the Home page will be amended and removed?

b. Will you be amending or withdrawing all such claims made by your party officials or representatives where such claims have been made?

3. Your Party appears to be irredeemably wedded to the CSE ‘cover-up’ narrative by police and council in Oldham, largely propagated by Tameside political activist, Raja Miah. In that light, the following issues arise:

a. Mr Wilkinson confirm, as a former Greater Manchester Police detective and long term Oldham resident, what he knew of child sex abuse being perpetrated in the town and the said cover-up by police and council either as a serving officer or post-retirement. Also, when he first became aware of the ‘cover-up’ and to whom he reported those concerns. It would be particularly helpful if Mr Wilkinson was able to name officers alleged to be part of said ‘cover-up’. There is no suggestion direct, or inferred, that Mr Wilkinson was part of that ‘cover-up’, most particularly as all the evidence suggests it didn’t exist.

b. As a former detective, serving locally both at Chadderton and Ashton-under-Lyne (a regional posting), has Mr Wilkinson either himself, or possibly in concert with other former GMP officers wedded to the same ‘cover-up’ narrative (Peter Jackson [who served in Oldham] and Paul Shilton spring immediately to mind) undertaken an investigation to either prove, or disprove it. Or to challenge the findings of my own extensive investigations? 

‘Get the white vote angry’ – Neil Wilby

b. Brian Hobin, your sole elected councillor (at the time of writing, of course), has been a taxi driver for a good number of years, licensed by the Council. When did he first became aware of child sex abuse being perpetrated in the town and the aforementioned cover-up by police and council and to whom did he raise concerns? The occupation of taxi-driver is linked to the CSE problem in other towns in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire either as witness or perpetrator. There is absolutely no suggestion that Cllr Hobin would be anything other than a witness or an important conduit for information on such grotesque crimes.

A written response was requested in the first instance with an offer of further discussion, in an interview to tape or camera, at the election count at the Civic Centre.

No response was received from either Kathleen or Mark Wilkinson. They have previously declined all other rights of reply and, consistently, refused to answer questions asked of them.

Apparently speaking on their behalf, their son Ryan Wilkinson made a series of offensive and defamatory posts on social media regarding this article and its author. They are not reproduced here as they will form part of legal action to be taken against him. The gist of his posts are that Neil Wilby:

(i) Has ‘made up another sensationalist, click bait headline’. It appears to be plainly and neutrally written from the body text. It did not, and, quite easily, could have picked out the ‘racist’ and ‘assault’ allegations made against Mark Wilkinson.

(ii) Is, or was, ‘clearly on the payroll’ of Sean Fielding. Palpably untrue.

(iii) Is unemployed and ‘will be reporting to the Jobcentre on Monday’. Palpably untrue.

(iv) Lies for a living (which runs counter to the unemployed assertion at paragraph (iii) above). Which is palpably untrue.

(v) Needs to ‘get a life and a proper job’. Journalism is generally regarded as a vocation or profession. It can give a rewarding life, too. For example, campaigning for the homeless, against child poverty and rehabilitation of offenders.

(vi) Needs to stop trying to discredit and harass people. As with his parents, the allegation is absent of specification or evidence.

(vii) Is a ‘charlatan’. No further details tendered.

These allegations are remarkably similar to those regularly posted by a seemingly endless series of anonymous Twitter accounts that seek to defend the FIPs on social media.

Wilkinson, 31 years old, and his business partner, Holly Cuthbert, 32, have a short, but chequered, business history. One of their company ventures was compulsorily struck off in 2016 and a second company went into liquidation owing creditors £169,000. Lloyds Bank were owed £85,000.

He has no entry on LinkedIn that suggests he is in employment and his Twitter bio is absent of similar details.

Right of reply was offered to Ryan Wilkinson. The correspondence address given for him at Companies House is the headquarters of the Failsworth Independent Party at 282, Lord Lane, Failsworth, M35 0PG.

On a night of shocks for the Labour Party across the country, Sean Fielding lost his seat on the Council by 191 votes. In a short statement, in the early hours of Friday 7th May, he said:

“Whilst tonight is obviously disappointing the voters of Failsworth West have spoken.

“It is no secret that I have been saddened by the campaign both politically and personally.

“I have served Failsworth as a Councillor for nine years, ensuring local green belt is protected, reinstating local youth services and saving vital local bus routes.

“I have also been privileged to serve the Borough as Council Leader for the past three years, steering Oldham through the unprecedented challenge presented by CoVID and developing a new vision for the town centre.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve as a Labour Council during my time as Leader. All at a time of savage austerity cuts to vital public services.

“And I’m also proud that I’ve been ambitious for Oldham, the town where I was born and brought up, and where I still call home. That ambition is unwavering, although I’m no longer serving as Leader. The people of Failsworth and of Oldham deserve the very best”

Page last updated at 1845hrs on Friday 7th May, 2021.

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:

© Neil Wilby 2015-2021. 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.

More of the same

A cursory examination of this website will see that its focus is very much on policing matters: The core of its output is reporting from the press seats of criminal trials, civil claims, employment tribunals, information tribunals and consequent appeals from any of those courts.

Very often, they feature misconduct, dishonesty, or even criminality, of police officers. Exacerbated in some cases by discrepancies in disclosure of documents, organised ‘cover-ups’ or seriously unimpressive witness box testimony.

Independent, evidence-based investigations are also undertaken, particularly in alleged miscarriage of justice cases into which I am invited, drawn or retained. It is a field where I am said to have some expertise.

It is true to say that commentators on such emotive matters risk being targeted on social media, with criticism on the two main platforms, Twitter or Facebook posts the most common form. Some take to email, or even the occasional letter, to put across their views. Or, via rogue websites.

In every case under review there is a winner and a loser. Unsurprisingly, the criticism comes from the latter quarter, who simply do not accept the findings and launch bitter, abusive, highly personalised attacks, often in organised groups (‘pile-ons’ in Twitterspeak) designed only to denigrate the author, without even beginning to address the conclusion and the rationale behind it. The bad faith of such websites and posts ought to be self-evident.

As a result of adopting a singular position in two cases this year (2020), I have become the focus of a number of such attacks. Investigative journalism is not a popularity contest, but neither should it be a medium for mindless abuse. Criticise what is written, for sure, and debate it reasonably, especially if there are mistakes, misrepresentations or it lacks the necessary rigour or balance. Every author ought to welcome constuctive feedback. I certainly do.

The first case that created controversy, and triggered an organised litany of abuse, was an innocence claim by a convicted murderer, Robin Garbutt (read more here). The campaign leader was happy to engage when she learned of the extensive work holding North Yorkshire Police, and its Police and Crime Commissioner, to account over the previous five years, exclusively uncovering scandal after scandal (read the latest here). That changed when I started to ask searching questions about the tailored narrative that was being promoted, about both the murder and the case being made out, by the campaigners, for a referral of the conviction back to the Court of Appeal.

The publication of the first article (read here) , neutrally written and safely founded on a court of appeal judgment and the transcript of the trial judge’s summing up, triggered a sustained campaign of personal abuse by the murderer’s supporters, and their associates, within the miscarriage of justice community (read here). But it did lead to an immediate change in the thrust of their campaign: That Garbutt and his principal supporters had always told the truth. The article forensically set out that he hadn’t – and neither had they.

It was not appeased by the second article in which all the flaws in the police investigation leading to the conviction were articulated – and linked to other notably poor efforts by the same force in that era, to which two of them I was particularly adjacent (read here).

Approaching 500 hours has been spent on that innocence claim and there are now well over 40,000 words written about it on this website. The makings of a book and TV or podcast drama, in fact.

The abusers haven’t challenged a single piece of evidence or reasoned argument, although the murderer’s brother in law, says he could ‘teach me a few lessons in grammar’. Which is fair enough. He wouldn’t be the first to point out my clunky, laboured style of writing.

A third application to the Criminal Case Review Commission was made by the campaigners last December, shortly before I became involved. A decision as to whether it will go forward to be investigated by the watchdog is expected to be made early in 2021. The previous two applications were rejected on the merits, without warranting an investigation. My firm, evidence-based, but unpopular, conclusion is that the third will suffer the same fate. There will be no longed-for referral back to the Court of Appeal (read more here).

For months at the end of last year and the beginning of this, I’d been nagged by the UK’s best known police whistleblower, Peter Jackson, a retired murder detective (read more here) to look into an alleged scandal in Oldham concerning the Borough Council mainly, but also the local police. A division in which Jackson had served as a thief-taking sergeant in the late 1990’s

It is said, repeatedly, by a group of political activists in the town, heavily supported on social media by ‘Jacko’ as he is known, that both are actively engaged in covering up large scale child sexual abuse. A highly emotive topic and a grievous accusation to make against anyone, particularly if using anonymity as a shield, as many frequently do.

The activists, otherwise known as New Chartist Alliance, are led by Raja Miah MBE, who posts and broadcasts on social media under the style ‘Recusant Nine‘ and blogs under the ‘Welcome to Oldham‘ banner from his base in Mossley, Tameside. He has a substantial following on Facebook, a lesser presence on Twitter, a gap filled by an account with the handle, Oldham Eye. Many believe the latter is controlled, or influenced greatly, by Raja, but it is a closely guarded secret within the cult.

Some preliminary work was done whilst I was still ‘locked down’ in Catalunya, the foot slog started as soon as I got back towards the end of July, 2020. What I’ve discovered since has genuinely sickened me and has generated a series of articles, beginning with this one (read here). But they expose the frailties of those alleging the child sex abuse ‘cover-up’, not what I was asked to look into. About which, very little viable evidence has been produced. Despite repeated requests to Raja and those associated with him.

What has concerned me the most, apart from the lack of meaningful evidence, has been the highly personalised, often abusive attacks on a number of politicians, public officials and experts in their field, such as Malcolm Newsam and Gary Ridgway, whose review of the Rochdale and Rusholme (South Manchester Curry Mile) child sex abuse scandal was universally acclaimed (read official report here). Apart from within the upper echelons of Greater Manchester Police, past and present, and leaders at Manchester City Council, who were genuinely shocked at the scale and extent of the investigation undertaken and, of course, the grotesque failings of both public bodies that were uncovered as a result of the diligence and expertise of the two investigators.

Raja Miah’s proposition that Newsam and Ridgway have turned up in Oldham to carry out a whitewash is as deeply offensive as it is plainly ludicrous. But the Recusant One has much to fear from it, as part of the remit of the investigation is to look into claims he has made about a widescale, multi-agency cover-up.

For emphasis, Oldham is a town with serious socio-economic issues and a council that, too frequently, leaves itself wide open to criticism with poor decision-making. In my own knowledge, and a matter reported on previously, taking on a disgraced former senior police officer, Rebekah Sutcliffe, in what appears to be a ‘non-job’ and increasing her annual salary from £109,000 to £120,000. The fact that she is a friend and contemporary of the same council’s chief executive, Dr Carolyn Wilkins, simply adds to the skin-crawling discomfort.

But how badly, or otherwise, councils are run is not my field of operation and the analysis of those problems is left to others. A point I made repeatedly to Peter Jackson and, at the outset, to Raja Miah. It remains the case today.

The question of whether the council running the East Lancashire mill town is any worse than its neighbours on either side of the Pennines is a moot point. But what can be stated with certainty, both Rochdale and Kirklees (encompassing Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley, Mirfield), all mill towns with significant minority ethnic communities did, in the past, actively engage in grotesque covering up of industrial scale child sex abuse. As was the case in Halifax, Bradford and Keighley. I first wrote about the cover-up of the latter two towns in 2013, focusing on the role played by West Yorkshire Police at the time, who openly opposed any reporting of the scandal and, in fact, managed to delay a Channel 4 exposé for almost a year.

From that time onwards, I was the only journalist asking questions in Huddersfield as to why, after an exposé in 2008/2009 by one of the town’s MP’s, Barry Sheerman, also at the time Children’s Minister in the last Labour Government, both the council and the police silenced him. It is true to say that I was actively obstructed by the local newspaper, the Huddersfield Examiner, in my enquiries. It was a topic that that political editor at the time did not, seemingly, want to involve herself in; she was ‘too busy’.

The same newspaper gleefully reported on a libel finding made against me the following year, a grotesque mistake that cost £60,000 in damages, plus substantial costs and interest, and then soon afterwards only reported an interlocutory hearing of a claim the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had brought and at which I was neither present, nor represented. A claim that was, ultimately and successfully defended, and in which a compromised settlement was reached on terms favourable to me. A number of the allegations made at that first hearing were not repeated later in the proceedings, simply because there was no evidential base to them. But two of the main objectives – to smear and undermine credibility – had been achieved.

The IPCC, who spent almost £150,000 on this enterprise, insisted on those settlement terms being part of a confidential annexe to the consent order and, therefore, not capable of being reported. All the parties to that claim have moved on and I remain one of the police watchdog’s sternest critics. In 2018, they changed their name, yet again, to Independent Office for Police Conduct as the IPCC ‘brand’ had become so toxic.

The libel case concerned an association I had made with a Leeds police officer who became a good friend of the now-notorious BBC celebrity, Jimmy Savile. That police officer was a colleague of one of my best police contacts in that era, Cedric Christie. They had worked together at Chapeltown Police Station.

That same whistleblower assisted me in forcing an outside police force inquiry, Operation Vertex, into a ‘whitewash’ report, signed off by ACC Ingrid Lee, into WYP’s failings in allowing the celebrity and charity fundraiser to offend for decades on their patch. Operation Newgreen was completely dismantled by my investigation and inside knowledge. The investigation into Newgreen was carried out by the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Nick Gargan, who was highly critical of both the construction and reported outcome of WYP’s ‘investigation’.

Shortly afterwards, ACC Lee was encouraged by the then chief constable, Mark Gilmore, to make a rare neutral transfer to SYP, to serve out the remainder of her career.

The Kirkless Divisional Commander in 2009, John Robins, is now WYP chief constable. I repeatedly pressed his predecessor, Dionne Collins, to refer the matter of the police ‘cover-up’, brought to light by Mr Sheerman, a sitting MP, to the IPCC (now IOPC), as had happened in Rotherham over failings of South Yorkshire Police officers. She refused point blank.

On the credit side, from the time she became temporary chief constable, investigations into child sexual exploitation across the force area began in earnest and, at the latest count over 70 Asian men, mostly of Pakistani heritage, have either been convicted or face criminal trials.

Some might say, therefore, given those antecedents, and a reputation for robustly challenging police wrongdoing, that it is no surprise that I was pressed to look into the murk hanging over Oldham and the persistent allegations of a cover-up by Greater Manchester Police, local council leaders and at least one Member of Parliament.

To close one particular circle, I had introduced Peter Jackson to Gail Hadfield Grainger on the same day this piece to camera (view here) was aired by ITV on their Granada Reports programme in August last year. They maintain contact by telephone and Peter frequently, and quite properly, cites the killing of Anthony Grainger as a glaring example of wrongdoing by his former employers. Indeed, his GMP catchphrase is ‘Rotten to the core‘ coined by Gail’s barrister, Leslie Thomas QC, during the public inquiry that replaced the inquest into Anthony’s death.

Gail gives pastoral support to Samantha Walker-Roberts, a survivor of child sex abuse in Oldham and an active campaigner, having waived her legal right to lifetime anonymity. Maintaining the work, often fronted by her lawyer husband, Steven, who sadly died earlier this year. Together, they lobbied on behalf of abuse victims, giving evidence at public inquiries into grooming, making representations to parliamentary select committees and bringing about subtle but important amendments to existing legislation. The friendship between Gail and Samantha led to the former facilitating a meeting between myself and the latter.

Regrettably, apart from a lengthy, highly personalised torrent of abuse directed at me, Raja Miah and his supporters have also attacked both Gail (read more here) and Samantha (read here), the latter repeatedly having personal details unwrapped either on Facebook or in his increasingly deranged weekly podcast.

In the face of a series of damning revelations about Miah, the class and scale of abuse referred to above, and knowing there is worst yet to come, the aforementioned Peter Jackson, who presents himself as a paragon of virtue and truth, not only maintains his support for ‘Raja’s Rabble’ (read more here) but has actively chosen to attack and undermine me on social media to further both of their causes.

That is entirely a matter of personal choice for ‘Jacko’, of course, and the band of fickle ex-GMP officers who have also withdrawn their support, en masse, to show solidarity with their errant former colleague.

But, outside their own particular bubble, and on any independent view, it shows exceedingly poor judgement and will, most certainly, not deflect me from completing the Oldham investigation and thoroughly expose Raja Miah – and the damage and disgrace he has brought to a town in which he doesn’t even live or work. Of that they can be very sure: Investigative journalism is not a popularity contest – and never was.

Page last updated at 0730hrs on Saturday 24th October, 2020.

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: 

Page last updated at 1110hrs on Friday 23rd October, 2020.

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: 

© Neil Wilby 2015-2020. 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.