Nazir Afzal OBE gets standing ovation at MP's Dinner

Date published: 20 November 2018

Guest speaker, Nazir Afzal OBE, the new chairman of Hopwood Hall College and former Chief Prosecutor for North West England, got a standing ovation at the MP's Dinner at Rochdale Town Hall on Saturday 17 November.

Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd hosted the 4-course dinner to raise funds for the Mayor's Charity Appeal. The Great Hall was filled with guests including Mayor Mohammed Zaman and Mayoress Naaira Zaman, Mayor of Rochdale's Consort, Mohammed Sheraz, Liz McInnes MP for Heywood and Middleton, Leader of the Council Allen Brett and councillors from all parties.

Nazir Afzal OBE, a senior British lawyer, was the first practising Muslim to be appointed as chief prosecutor. He initiated prosecutions in the case of the Rochdale sex trafficking gang and was the Chief Executive of the country's Police and Crime Commissioners.

Mr Afzal spoke from the heart about his childhood in Birmingham and the constant bullying and beating he got from other children and young people as he was growing up, just because he was a Muslim.

He spoke about his experience in the legal areas of child sexual exploitation and violence against women, women's rights and forced marriage and honour killings.

He spoke passionately about his work with the Welsh government on issues around violence against women and his pledge to make Wales one of the safest places in Europe to be a woman.

When he finished he received a standing ovation from the dinner guests.

Guests said they were surprised by his talk, they expected something a lot lighter, but that he spoke really well, and humorously at times – “When I kept getting called names I kept saying to them ‘Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’, so they stopped talking to me and just beat me up instead”.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman said: “Nazir Afsal gave a brilliant speech, detailing his personal experience and how he got into his post. Everyone enjoyed his talk.

“People told me it was a good event, especially in supporting local charities which make a real difference. Everyone had a good time.

“The dinner raised over £2,500 which is very good fundraising. People came from Oldham, Trafford, Manchester, Todmorden, Blackburn, Bury and Burnley.

“I am really grateful for all the support and I look forward to raising more funds to help each charity improve their work initiatives and programmes.

“Without our support, it would be very difficult.

“Rochdale people support from the bottom of their hearts and it is also good to see the MP supporting our local charities.

“Thank you to everyone who attended the dinner, and also the Ale Trail, which has also raised vital funds for my chosen charities this year.

“A big thank you goes to Rochdale Online for supporting our events and the publicity they give.

“They have good connections with everyone in Rochdale and I am so grateful to them as well.

“The dinner was a good mix of communities, and it was a nice get together.

“I would also like to thank the Rotary Club, local councillors and Leader of the Council, Allen Brett, who has been very supportive in selling the mayor’s quiz.”

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