Monday, 20 October 2014

Rochdale Council Boss Insists He Knew Nothing

RICHARD Farnell, Labour leader of Rochdale Council, in a letter in Rochdale Observer (11/10/14), insists that he 'knew nothing of abuse allegations' at Knowl View School in Norden, Rochdale during his term of office as leader of the Council up to May 1992.  In his letter in the Ob. Councillor Farnell writes:
'Although it is 22 years since I was previously Leader of the council, I have made clear that allegations made to health and council staff during the seven months towards the end of my leadership were not brought to my attention.  I ceased to be leader in May 1992.  I have spoken to all the leading councillors from that time and they were all unaware of allegations made at that time.'

This is slightly evasive because Councillor Farnell must know that the leader of the Rochdale Conservative Party at that time, Pamela Hawton, knew about it in her capacity as Chair of Rochdale Health Authority. 

Recently Rochdale lad, Les May, wrote to the Rochdale Observer:
'So far as I am aware only a heavily redacted version of the first report has been placed in the public domain. Evidence that this was also seen by Ian Davey, Acting Director of Social Services, and by Councillor Pamela Hawton, who at that time chaired Rochdale Health Authority, and that a second report written by a clinical psychologist, Valerie Mellor, was presented in February 1992, can readily be found on the World Wide Web.'

Councillor Farnell couldn't now speak to former Councillor Hawton because she is dead, but it begs the question as to why, as the leader of Rochdale Council Richard Farnell didn't know about the events at Knowl View if the leader of the Conservative Party was aware of it in April 1991, over a year before he left office.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Farnell's letter is his reference to 'allegations'.  It seems the report by Phillip Shepherd definitely did not contain allegations about Cyril, and there is no reason to suppose the second report by Valerie Mellor did either.  So while it may be true to say that he didn't know of any 'abuse allegations' against Cyril Smith, it is still possible that he was aware of the report written by  Phil Shepherd although it is likely that he had no knowledge of the report by Valerie Mellor that came out after Councillor Farnell had ceased to be leader of Rochdale Council in May 1992. 

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