Life in a Northern Town
If this were the Whitechapel in the 1960s, retired dockers debating over pints of London Pride in the ‘Blind Beggar’ would glance nervously about while muttering under their breaths. Faces down the station. Big houses out in Essex. Sports cars. Places in Spain. The rest of the constabulary enjoying a more than occasional generous drink to glance the other way.
But it isn’t the sixties and this isn’t London. Reggie and Ronnie would blush. Charlie, Jack the Hat and Mad Frankie would make an excuse and leave. Our focus is up the North not down the East End. In the iconic 1970 film Get Carter cockney gangster Gerald Fletcher warns Michale Caine’s character, ‘Some hard nuts operate up there, Jack.’ This Northerner begs to disagree. Not hard, Mr Carter, worse than that, well-protected.
There is nothing London or seventies about the corruption revealed in the recently published Review into historic safeguarding practices in the borough of Oldham. As you’d expect from Common Purpose pen pushers investigating Common Purpose pen pushers, the conclusions are an attempted whitewash. However, as often, the body of the report bears no relation to its intended headlines. Gems hide there. The dig is worth it. At 200 pages, a fascinating, doable read reveals a sleazy underside to public life in the Lancashire mill town as if porn slides described through cigarette smoke in the opening lines of a Mike Hodges script.
Although independent reviewers Newsam and Ridgeway concluded there was no evidence to suggest Oldham Council covered up child rape or shied away from the issue of white girls being victimised by Pakistanis, even the mainstream media pulled a wall of evidence from the body of the text that contradicted those unlikely claims. (Malcolm Newsam is an experienced Director of Children’s Services. Ridgway is a former police officer. Say no more.)
The BBC tells of a girl called ‘Sophie’ who went to the police in 2006 to report a sexual assault and was told to come back when not drunk. Sun readers were informed Shabir Ahmed was free to work as a welfare rights officer with Oldham Council after the police failed to tell his employers of claims of sexual abuse levelled against him for many years. The Guardian noted council officers and senior police officers ‘may have misled MPs on the Commons home affairs select committee’.
2006? Lessons have been learned. Policing has changed. As the can continues to bounce down the road towards infinity, concerned citizens can expect to learn of inconvenient now-this-minute scandals in about 2038. In the interim, as Puffins would expect, Going-Postal shall continue to dig.
One way Newsam and Ridgeway perpetuatethe cover-up by use of letters euphemistically hiding the identity (and more important, ethnicity) of perpetrators – even those belatedly convicted. As the Sun was able to ascertain, Offender A is obviously Shabir Ahmed, also known as ‘Daddy’. As a welfare officer with Oldham Council, he was seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre. A member of the Labour Party, he is serving 22 years in jail for sexual offences against children. How did he get away with it for so long? And how did Oldham become mired in corruption? Through another unmentionable, the unchallenged Pakistani clan culture known as Baradari or ‘brotherhood’.
According to British author Anatol Lieven, academic and visiting professor of International Relations and Terrorism at King’s College London, Baradari is the most important force in Pakistani society and has a far greater influence than any religious, ethnic, or ideological cause. Pakistani’s political alliances are based on Baradari, not politics. The brotherhood is in turn inseparable from the extended family or clan, made all the more intense through generation after generation of forced first cousin marriage.
At the moment, 19 Asian Muslim Labour Party councillors form a Brown Wall within the rundown inner-city parts of Oldham borough. The town is far from multi-cultural. It is a series of racially segregated mono-cultural ghettos with the Pakistani community therein originating from a small number of neighbouring villages in the Mirpur district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir in the northernmost part of the Indian sub-continent.
Elders have great influence over the community with educated members of the clan, as well as being active in Labour Party politics, holding positions in the law, business and the police. Uneducated Baradari are voting fodder and benefits cash cows, hence the need for ‘welfare’ workers in ‘community centres’.
As for the lack of evidence of a cover-up, the report states,
We have found no evidence that Journalist A, or the BBC, colluded with the council in not highlighting the potential threat presented by shisha bars. Quite to the contrary, we have seen clear evidence that Journalist A challenged the position held by both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police, and continued to investigate the story, which was eventually broadcast by the BBC.
This is tosh. ‘Eventually’ when it was too late. After the damage had been done. Even then, punches were pulled, the story spun. Underage girls had already been raped and prostituted. Pockets had been lined. And what are these shisha bars? Chief Inspector A elaborated in a 5th June 2013 email in response to a request from Local Councillor W.
The communication outlined a business model whereby premises, usually ex-public houses bought at auction, would rapidly pass through various owners and operators while becoming a private club. These were then advertised through Facebook as shisha bars. Front doors were locked. Access was allowed only to ‘known faces’. The businesses paid no business rates, never lodged accounts and were magnets for health and safety breaches regarding electrics, fire regulations, asbestos and building safety. As the premises changed hands, outstanding business rates and bills died with the transaction.
Young people were leaving college during the day and visiting one such ‘cafe’. The Local Children’s Safeguarding Board were informed but nothing was done. Upstairs rooms were for hire having technically been converted for multiple occupancy. One bar was raided following ‘intelligence that under-age girls were engaging in sexual activity on the premiss for alcohol’ but ‘no substantive criminal offences [were being] committed’. The upstairs of another premises was raided. ‘People were living there but stated ‘no money changes hands, he lets me live here as a favour’.’
Chief Inspector A concluded,
“These premises pose a significant safeguarding risk. The operators are savvy at using the internet to market their activities and make contact with young people. They operate behind multiple changes of ownership and sub-letting and current legislation around ASB [anti-social behaviour], Business Rate enforcement.”
As a mark of how grubby these establishments were the report mentions, amongst many other issues; insect infestations, basements packed with bin bags, rotting rubbish, food debris, dangerous electricity supply that had been tampered with.
Remember, the legal and accountancy side of this business model will be covered by clan lawyers and accountants. If it becomes a political or police issue, clan members contained therein know where their loyalties lie and will have no consideration for the law or the well-being of the general public.
The email was circulated among councillors, one of whom forwarded it to Mr K, a former Oldham councillor whose son was a BBC journalist. Referred to in the report as Journalist A, he made a request to the Oldham Council press office based upon information the email contained. On 10th June 2013 council minutes show, rather than being concerned about well being of young girls, councillors were concerned about the level of detail Journalist A’s request to the press office had contained.
This investigator understands that ‘K’ is Joe Fitzpatrick who left the Labour Party the following year after colleague Hugh McDonald was disciplined by the party for leaking information regarding child safeguarding investigations in the borough. Journalist A is his son, Kevin Fitzpatrick, then and now of BBC Radio Manchester.
Councillor U was tasked to contact Journalist A by phone. The race, islamophobia and ultra-hard far-right cards were put to use as was Fusilier Lee Rigby’s forthcoming funeral. Murdered by Muslim terrorists on 22nd May of that year, the funeral was to take place in nearby Bury on 12th July. Journalist A agreed to drop the story but a follow-up email dated July 10th included the following telling line,
All it would take is for one father who drags his daughter out of one of these places to go to The Sun and you won’t get the genie back in the bottle.
Rather than run the story, Journalist A said he would be ‘monitoring concerns’. Journalist A concluded by pleading for the ‘first opportunity to run the story or come to any operations’ if the cover-up ever ended.
Subsequently, despite Chief Inspector A’s analysis, there was never enough evidence of wrongdoing to raid shisha bars rife with illegal drinking, drug abuse and child rape. Premises were visited rather than raided with them being mysteriously cleaned up in anticipation of police visits. Instead, local authority processes such as health and safety legislation were used at a glacial pace to allegedly disrupt the trade.
One such premises, the Oasis Cafe, was bought by Oldham Council and demolished. A note passed to Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders on Oldham Council alleged that the building had been demolished to destroy evidence as Cabinet Lead Councillor U was a friend of Shabir Ahmed.
Besides deciding there was no cover-up over shisha bars, the report claims there was no cover-up regarding the taxis used to ferry victims, or surrounding girls who were picked up from residential homes and abused.
The report splits hairs. Briefly, other Muslim taxis were brought in from nearby boroughs to bypass Oldham licencing. According to council employees, girls were picked up close to, sometimes directly outside, residential homes. This investigator is led to understand that grooming gangs had access to the at-risk register which contains vulnerable children’s contact details. After reporting her sexual assault, ‘Sarah’ was taken in a car waiting for her outside the police station and was gang-raped later that night.
A Fine Body of Men And Women?
A recent Peter Hitchens column in the Mail on Sunday caught the eye. While running through his usual obsessions about the injustice metered to Bishop Bell and soft drug abuse causing violent psychosis, he decried the present state of the police force and suggested the abolition of what was once ‘a fine body of men and women’. Hitchens is right and he is wrong. Some of the constabularies need to be abolished but were any of them ever that fine body of men and women?
To one degree or another, some levels of the force have always been riddled with freemasonry, petty pilfering, you watch my back and I’ll watch your back cronyism and ‘have a drink on me’ relationships with local criminals. In recent decades, the sheer amount of money (in the most unlikely of places) generated by the county lines drugs trade and child abuse – exacerbated by the Baradari structure of immigrant clans – has corrupted parts of Blue Line further.
For more details, we must cross the Pennines. Puffins will be pleased to hear that in the next part of this investigation there is no need for lettered anonymity. Our subject is conveniently dead and, before you ask, no, he didn’t die peacefully in his sleep.
To be continued …
© Always Worth Saying 2022