Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Who Knew What About Knowl View?

SIMON Danczuk,  Rochdale's MP, yesterday was interviewed on BBC North West Tonight at Rochdale Town Hall and questioned as to if Council Leader elect, Councillor Richard Farnell, had knowledge of the contents of the reports about Knowl View when he was the leader of the Rochdale Council at the time the reports were produced.  Previously, when asked, Councillor Farnell had failed to comment on if he had knowledge of what was in the reports.  Mr Danczuk claimed Councillor Farnell had assured him that he knew nothing of the child abuse at Knowl View at the time he was Council leader.  Mr Danczuk also suggested that Councillor Farnell was being smeared for political purposes and that the focus should be on the victims.

Councillor Farnell is believed to have now spoken to the BBC and categorically denied ever seeing any reports connected to the allegations.

Following a press conference in April, the police began a fresh investigation into allegations of abuse and a possible cover-up at Knowl View.  A separate independent inquiry is investigating whether Rochdale Council could have done more.

It was revealed last night that Phil Shepherd a health professional visited the Knowl View School in Rochdale in 1991, and is to give evidence to an independent inquiry set up by the council.  On Radio Four this morning, Mr Shepherd said he could well understand why people believed there had been a 'cover-up' over his report. 

Mr Shepherd, who attended Knowl View to offer sex education training for staff, last night told the BBC what he was told by them was a 'bombshell'.

'I wrote a report.  I imagined it blowing up anytime soon.  The fact that it didn't has always amazed me,'  he said.

The BBC obtained a copy of Mr Shepherd's original report from 1991, in it, he wrote: '…parents of children at the school would be horrified were the facts to be known [and that] unless some incisive action is taken soon it is more than likely that this activity will become a public scandal.'  And he continues to detail claims that men from as far away as Sheffield were travelling to Rochdale to abuse five boys aged between eight and 13 who were working as prostitutes at public toilets. He wrote at the time that police were  'aware of the problem' but 'what action has been taken is not known'.

In the introduction he writes that 'most of the day [at Knowl View] was spent with the staff voicing very strong feelings about problems at the school, in particular concerns about the safety and behaviour of some of the 36 boys'.

At present Rochdale Council is saying it cannot comment before the independent inquiry it has set up reports. 

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