Deputy council leader says claims he gave Rochdale grooming gang ringleader a reference are ‘untrue’

Councillor Abdul Jabbar addresses the full council meeting. Photo: LDRS.Councillor Abdul Jabbar addresses the full council meeting. Photo: LDRS.
Councillor Abdul Jabbar addresses the full council meeting. Photo: LDRS. | ldrs
An Oldham councillor addressed allegations directed at him amid shouts and heckles from the public gallery in a council meeting.

The deputy leader of Oldham council has denied claims he provided a reference to notorious Rochdale grooming gang ringleader Shabir Ahmed, branding them ‘categorically untrue’.

Ahmed, and his links to Oldham and the council were investigated as part of the recently published review looking into child sexual exploitation in the borough, which uncovered ‘serious failures’ in how authorities dealt with the predator.

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At a chaotic meeting of the full council on Wednesday night, Councillor Abdul Jabbar addressed allegations directed at him amid shouts and heckles from the public gallery.

A public question, submitted by Christopher Badderly, stated: “I would like to know the name the person who supplied Shabir Ahmed, convicted of CSE in Rochdale, with a character reference.

“I have been informed that the person responsible is a current Labour councillor. Is this correct?”

In response, council leader Amanda Chadderton said: “I have checked within the council and we have no record of anybody giving a reference to Shabir Ahmed.

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“However, I know there are allegations online and an allegation made in this chamber a couple of weeks ago and tonight that Councillor Jabbar may have given a reference to this individual, so he would like to respond himself.”

Coun Jabbar, who has represented Coldhurst ward since 2008, said: “I know there are malicious and untrue allegations circulating online about me apparently providing a reference for disgraceful rapist Shabir Ahmed.

“It is alleged I have given him a reference for a court appearance when he was accused of a horrendous act of child abuse. These allegations are categorically untrue.

“I was never asked and absolutely never would give any such reference, in fact I have no recollection of ever having been approached or given any reference to this individual.

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“This man’s crimes are truly abhorrent and nobody of right mind could support him in the face of crimes that he was accused of and subsequently convicted for.”

Ahmed had worked at Oldham council between 1988 and 2006, and was employed as a welfare rights officer seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre.

The report, published last month, found that there was a significant allegation of child sexual abuse made in 2005 against Ahmed. However Greater Manchester Police did not inform Oldham council, which was then his employer.

This occurred three years before the later widespread grooming and gang rape in Rochdale, which also saw abused girls let down by police and social services.

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Later sexual abuse by Ahmed could have been prevented if earlier ‘offending behaviour’ and the threat he posed to children had been properly addressed, the review concluded.

Known as ‘Daddy’ by his victims, he was found guilty of two rapes, aiding and abetting rape, sexual assault and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment. In June 2012 he was found guilty of a further 30 rape charges and was jailed for an additional 22 years, adding three years to his overall prison term.

“The review team conclude that there were serious multiple failures by both Greater Manchester Police and Oldham council to follow the procedures in place to investigate the threat [Ahmed] presented to children,” the report by Malcom Newsam and Gary Ridgway stated.

“If these procedures had been followed, his offending behaviour could have been addressed at an earlier stage and potentially the abuse of his subsequent victims may have been prevented.”

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