The continuing controversy surrounding who knew what about the sexual abuse scandal in Rochdale has claimed the head of the Labour leader of the council today.
Richard Farnell, in a letter to his Labour colleagues has announced that he will be stepping down as leader just weeks after he gave evidence concerning the abuse suffered by boys at a school in Rochdale.
Farnell denied claims he knew about allegations of child sexual abuse in the early 1990s at the Knowl View,Mr Farnell, telling the inquiry he was never informed of the scandal during his first stint in office between 1986 and 1992.
The Independent Inquiry was examining Child Sexual and how the late MP Cyril Smith and others were able to target youngsters at institutions in the town over several decades.
The inquiry was told that the director of social services, director of education, the chief executive, Labour education chair and Conservative health authority chair all knew about allegations but these were never passed onto Farnell.
In his resignation letter, Farnell talks of “a persistent campaign from a small minority of members in the Party calling for my suspension in an attempt to undermine my leadership and cause disunity in the party.” adding
“I did not know and there is no evidence whatsoever I was informed of the events at Knowl View. There is no evidence whatsoever that there was a political cover-up.”
His resignation comes just days before councillors were due to debate a motion of no confidence brought by opposition Liberal Democrats.
Allegations have been made about the sexual abuse and exploitation of children at Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel and Knowl View School in Rochdale. Former Liberal Party MP, Cyril Smith, has been named as one of the alleged abusers and was a governor at the school which was shut down in 1995 after police were given a dossier of evidence detailing systematic physical and sexual abuse by staff.