Rochdale grooming gang: politicians and campaigners speak after members lose legal fight against deportation

The verdict of an immigration tribunal has been welcomed but there are questions about why it has taken so long and the impact the protracted legal battle has had on victims.

Politicians and campaigners have spoken after two members of the Rochdale grooming gang lost their legal battles against being deported to Pakistan.

An immigration tribunal ruled there was a “very strong public interest” in Adil Khan, 51, and Qari Abdul Rauf, 52, being removed from the UK after they committed a string of serious sex offences against young girls in the Greater Manchester town. The men had fought a multi-year legal battle against their deportation, arguing it was a violation of their human rights.

Politicians and campaigners for victims welcomed the tribunal’s decision but said there were questions to be answered about how long the process to remove the men has taken and the impact this has had on those they committed the offences against.

What have politicians said?

Politicians in Greater Manchester said the newly-appointed home secretary Suella Braverman now needs to act to ensure the deportations of Khan and Rauf are carried out quickly and urged the tribunal’s verdict, which was released publicly as a written ruling on Wednesday (26 October), to be the end of the legal process.

In a joint statement Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and his deputy mayor for police, crime and criminal justice Baroness Beverley Hughes said: “We welcome this decision but it comes after too many years of long legal battles and suspended justice for the victims and communities whose lives were ruined by the appalling crimes of these men. This is now the second appeal that they have lost against deportation. There is no question that it must be the last.

“Throughout the years, we have repeatedly pressed the Home Office for action, including after the first appeal was lost in 2018. We called on them to put the victims first and ensure that these men could not be allowed to go about their lives in the places where they carried out their abuses.

“Despite our representations, the Home Office’s failure to inform us of the developments in the case showed a flagrant disregard for the local communities who remained deeply affected and distressed by this postponement of justice.

“The new Home Secretary must now get a grip of this situation and restore the confidence of those communities. We hope that the deportation process can now be completed swiftly to provide some small sense of closure to those who suffered so terribly at their hands.”

What have campaigners said?

Maggie Oliver, a whistleblowing police officer who quit Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to raise awareness of the problem of grooming gangs and then founded The Maggie Oliver Foundation, described the ordeal victims had gone through having to continue living alongside the men who abused them.

She said:”While I am grateful to hear that these two paedophiles are finally to be deported, I am still enraged that this has taken such a long time to happen, at such an expense to the taxpayer and ongoing trauma to their victims. A criminal justice system that permits this is a broken one.

“Seven years have passed since the original recommendation to deport them was made, and 13 years since they committed the offences for which they were convicted. In the meantime, eye-watering sums have money have been spent from the public purse providing them with legal aid to fight the decision. All on the basis that it would infringe on their human rights.

“During this time, these rapists have been permitted to go about their normal lives in Rochdale, leaving their victims terrified that they might bump into them at any time, as in fact did happen to one of the girls who was completely retraumatized by the experience.

“As if they have not been through enough. I’m relieved for them today that this risk has been removed. Coupled with the historic apology they received in April from GMP for their failings in investigating their abuse, I hope these girls, now women, can finally find some peace.”