Fury that Rochdale grooming gang leaders have not been deported among politicians and campaigners for victims

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Greater Manchester’s mayor and deputy mayor say the Home Office should be doing more while ex-police officer and whistleblower Maggie Oliver says the failure to deport the men is ‘.

Greater Manchester politicians and a police officer turned whistleblower have expressed anger that the leaders of the Rochdale grooming gang have not been deported.

The Immigration Tribunal has been hearing evidence as two people involved in the child sexual exploitation continue their attempts to avoid being forcibly sent to Pakistan.

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Three of the grooming gang leaders have fought a legal campaign over a number of years against deportation since being released from prison.

Greater Manchester’s mayor and deputy mayor have now said it is wrong that they might be able to live the rest of their lives alongside their victims and urged the Home Office to do more.

Maggie Oliver, a former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer who resigned over the force’s failure to tackle grooming gangs and is now a prominent campaigner, also blasted the Government and justice system.

What is happening with the Rochdale grooming gang leaders and their legal battle?

Two points from the recent Immigration Tribunal hearing concerning Adil Khan, 51, and 52-year-old Qari Abdul Rauf have sparked anger.

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One is that it has been said during proceedings that ringleader Abdul Aziz was told by the Home Office he would not lose his citizenship and be deported to Pakistan.

Rochdale, where nine men were jailed for child sexual exploitation offences as part of a grooming gang. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesRochdale, where nine men were jailed for child sexual exploitation offences as part of a grooming gang. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Rochdale, where nine men were jailed for child sexual exploitation offences as part of a grooming gang. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images | Getty Images

The other is that it is clear that all three men have renounced their Pakistani citizenship, which makes removing them from the UK more difficult.

The tribunal hearing on Khan and Rauf has been adjourned and a final decision on the men’s fates is expected to be made later this year.

In total nine men were jailed in 2012 for a catalogue of child sexual exploitation offences in Rochdale.

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How have Greater Manchester politicians reacted?

In a joint statement Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and deputy mayor for police, crime and criminal justice Baroness Beverley Hughes strongly criticised the Home Office and home secretary Priti Patel.

They said: “We are horrified that the ringleaders of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale, who were convicted for their heinous crimes, have used a legal loophole by renouncing their Pakistani nationality to avoid being deported.

“We are now in a situation where these men, having lost an appeal to avoid deportation in 2018, might have a chance of never being deported and be allowed to carry on with their lives in the very areas where they carried out their abuse.

“Victims have been forgotten in all this and we are appalled that the Home Secretary, who has had years to do right by them, has so far failed to deport.

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“All her tough talk on deportations rings hollow when it comes to the perpetrators of child abuse. Despite our many representations to her, she failed to inform us that a court hearing challenging the deportation order was on-going.

“In so doing, she demonstrates how little concern she has for the local community who are understandably upset and angry about what is happening.

“We call on the Home Secretary to do everything within her and the Government’s power to get the right outcome for the victims. Justice will finally be seen to be fully served only once these deportations are complete and only then will the community be able to begin to heal.”

What has ex-police officer turned whistleblower Maggie Oliver said?

Maggie Oliver, who resigned from the city-region’s police force in protest at its handling of grooming gangs and founded The Maggie Oliver Foundation to support victims of sexual exploitation, also reacted to the news from the tribunal with fury.

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She said: “This is another kick in the teeth for victims. Another example of how their rights are always at the bottom of the pile. And it appears to be yet again another cover-up.

“If this is true, then the Home Office have known about the failure to deport Aziz for four years and have withheld that information.

Maggie Oliver. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty ImagesMaggie Oliver. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Maggie Oliver. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images | Getty Images

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on legal aid fighting these cases. Paid to unscrupulous lawyers who are ‘playing the system’ with complete disregard for victims or their human rights.

“These monsters should have been deported the moment they stepped outside the prison gates, and in fact, should never have been given parole. A condition of parole is to show remorse and be sorry for their actions. These abusers have stated time and again that they think they have done nothing wrong.

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“I despair and my heart goes out to the victims of these men, who walk around Rochdale fearful of bumping into them.

“Our so-called justice system is not fit for purpose. This is not justice in my book.”

How has the Government responded?

In response to the criticism a Home Office spokesperson said: “What happened in places such as Rochdale remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience.

“That is why we are determined to take whatever action is available to us within the law to protect the vulnerable and the victims of terrible crimes, such as those committed in Rochdale.

“The Government’s priority is keeping the people of this country safe and foreign criminals should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.”

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