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Leader of Rochdale Council said he 'was never told' about sex abuse

Knowl View residential school Credit: ITV Granada

The leader of Rochdale Council has dismissed claims he knew about allegations of child sexual abuse in the early 90s, insisting his colleague "is lying".

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is examining how the late MP Cyril Smith and others were able to target youngsters at institutions in the town over several decades.

It has heard how serious allegations of sexual abuse involving children at Knowl View School were known about by senior officials within the council.

Richard Farnell, who regained the position of Labour council leader in 2014 after a gap of 22 years, told the inquiry he was never informed of the scandal during his first stint in office between 1986 and 1992.

The inquiry heard how evidence about abuse at Knowl View mounted from September 1990, when a paedophile had been let in and sexually abused at least one boy.

Mr Farnell said:

I was not informed of events at Knowl View during my time as leader."

– Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Council

Mr Farnell would not take any personal responsibility for the suffering of boys at a school for which his council had responsibility, blaming council officers for failing to tell him.

The council should accept responsibility for failings that happened in Knowl View, and individuals must take responsibilities for their own actions," he said.

"I bitterly regret that the senior officers of the council never once approached me to brief me about these matters."

– Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Council

Senior figures at Rochdale Council called to Child Abuse Inquiry

Leader of Rochdale Council called to give evidence Credit: David Farnell

The Leader of Rochdale Council is expected to give evidence today at the public inquiry into allegations of historical abuse in Rochdale.

Richard Farnell, who was also in charge between 1986 and 1992 will be asked about how much officials knew and what they did with the evidence of abuse.

Paul Rowen, council leader between 1992 and 1994, will also be asked to give evidence regarding child protection failings at institutions including Cambridge House hostel and Knowl View School in the city.

The former Head of Education at Rochdale Council yesterday made an emotional apology to the boys who were abused at a residential care unit in the 1990s.

Diana Cavanagh told the hearing in London looking into the exploitation of children as young as eight, that more could and should have been done by her council to keep them safe.


Abuse investigation at Rochdale school widens

Knowl View School in Rochdale

Greater Manchester Police say there are now 21 suspects in the investigation into alleged abuse at Knowl View School, including former staff and pupils.

The former MP for Rochdale, the late Cyril Smith

Seven of those are unidentified, the other 14 have been named and include the former MP for Rochdale the late Cyril Smith.

Officers say 10 new alleged victims have come forward as part of the investigation nine of those claim they were abused at Knowl View.

Seven claim they were abused by Cyril Smith.

Detectives say the investigation is growing every day and they're trying to establish if officials had known about what was allegedly happening at the school.


Police to investigate claims of sexual abuse by Cyril Smith

Police are to investigate claims there was a cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by the former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith at two schools in the town. The Liberal MP, who died in 2010, is alleged to have abused young boys at Knowl View and Cambridge House.

Several men say they told police they'd been physically and sexually abused by Smith in the 1960s and 70s - but no action was taken.

Cyril Smith's family deny he had any involvement in the abuse of children.

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