Rochdale Labour party in turmoil as secretary quits over handling of sex abuse scandal

It is alleged that several children were abused at a residential home for boys in Rochdale

It is alleged that several children were abused at a residential home for boys in Rochdale

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A regional Labour group has descended into turmoil after its secretary resigned in protest at the non-suspension of the local council leader.

Sharon MacLean sent an email to all local local Constituency Labour Party members, saying she had no option but to resign in protest at the failure to suspend Richard Farnell for his "inaction" over the Knowl View sex abuse scandal.

An inquiry is currently investigating several claims of abuse against boys at the residential school in Rochdale. Former Liberal MP Cyril Smith has been named as one of the abusers, although the inquiry remains ongoing.

It has been alled that Farnell, a long-standing local politician, knew about the sexual abuse allegations back in the 1990s, although he denies this and has accused a colleague of lying.

MacLean wrote in her email: "I believe that we have not shown local victims of CSA [child sexual abuse] that the local party supports them, despite the various members’ resolutions across the borough calling [on] the National Party to act.  

"This lack of support is compounded by the National Party in not suspending the Leader, given the evidence, while an investigation takes place as happens in the case of any professional.  

"This lack of action from the Party over the Inquiry is putting unnecessary public and personal pressure on myself and other members who are facing the wrath of the public after having seen and heard the evidence. This lack of action is sending out the wrong signals to the public but especially to the victims, who are the most important people in the inquiry, who have stated their views publicly on a number of occasions that they wish the Party to act. I do not want to be a party to this inaction.  

"These are the political reasons for my resignation."

In response to MacLean's resignation, the chair of the Rochdale CLP sent a message to all members apologising for her "unsolicited and unauthorised email", adding that the CLP has given MacLean "every support" and always been available for communication.

The response continued by saying that MacLean's message, "which was sent to hundreds of local party members, has been reported to the Labour Party’s Compliance Officer at head office for the unauthorised use of the personal email addresses of party members, which is a clear breach of party rules and the Data Protection Act."

MacLean said she did not wish to comment when approached by talkRADIO, telling us "everything I have to say is in my resignation letter."

talkRADIO has also contacted Farnell for a reply, but he has not responded.