The Sunday Telegraph has reported that the Labour leadership of a Greater Manchester council covered up a sexual harassment allegation against its mayor, who then secured an influential new position.
While serving as mayor of Rochdale in February 2023, Ali Ahmed was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a woman. Nonetheless, these allegations were concealed from his colleagues and the general public, according to the newspaper report.
On May 17, at the council’s annual general meeting, Ahmed’s term as mayor ended. He was designated chairman of the Rochdale North municipal committee immediately. However, during the preceding AGM of the local Labour party, there was no mention of the complaint against him.
The Labour party was able to participate in the hotly contested local elections without scandal by ignoring the report. In addition, Ahmed accomplished his term as mayor without any scrutiny last month.
Subsequently, he obtained the chairmanship of a powerful committee responsible for a wide range of local policy making, according to the Telegraph. The newspaper previously reported that prospective deputy mayor Shakil Ahmed is also the subject of a harassment complaint.
A spokesperson for Labour in Rochdale stated that there were no outstanding complaints against the former mayor, as they had been ‘withdrawn’. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the victim’s withdrawal was caused by tension and a dearth of support (reported the Telegraph).
Ironically, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently urged individuals with sexual harassment allegations against Labour politicians to come forward. Judging by this case, his plea has fallen on deaf ears. Our perhaps there are too many to deal with?
This request was made following the suspension of Geraint Davies as a result of allegations that he made offensive sexual advances towards five younger female colleagues. Davies refutes these claims. David Evans, general secretary of Labour, had already ordered a review of the organisation’s internal procedures.
In an email that was disclosed prior to the Rochdale AGM, colleagues implored leader of the borough council, Neil Emmott, not to nominate Shakil for the position, warning that it could send a negative message to women and victims of abuse.
This is not the first time the Labour Party in Rochdale has shown its true-colours when it comes to how it deals with claims of sexual impropriety, harassment and grooming. Below we reproduce a couple of instances that have appeared in the media:
Manchester Evening News 3 July 2017
Coun Rowbotham, who represents North Middleton on Rochdale council, threw her hat in the ring after Simon Danczuk was banned from running for Labour following his suspension in 2015 for sending explicit texts to a 17-year-old girl.
Coun Rowbotham is the whistleblower who lifted the lid on the horrific abuse of youngsters in the town. Coun Rowbotham’s frustrations led her to gathering damning evidence in the Rochdale abuse case in 2012, which helped convict the men involved.
The Guardian Sun 15 April 2018
Child abuse inquiry lawyer: Labour’s rule in Rochdale ‘toxic’
Richard Scorer, who represented victims at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IISCA), said Labour had allowed Rochdale’s political leaders to act in a “dysfunctional bubble”.
“If Rochdale is going to be able to move forward there has to be changes at the political leadership level,” he said.
His comments came after Richard Farnell, who recently resigned as leader of the council, was accused of lying under oath about his knowledge of child sexual abuse at the now-closed Knowl View school.
Top Image: Ali Ahmed (Photo: Twitter)
Bottom Image: Facebook.
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