These paedophiles still walk streets of Rochdale - despite losing 2018 appeal to avoid being deported
Date published: 09 April 2021
Qari Abdul Rauf, Adil Khan and Abdul Aziz
It has been more than four years since three paedophiles of the infamous ‘Rochdale grooming gang’ were told they would face deportation as a result of their abhorrent crimes, targeting vulnerable underaged girls – but they still walk the streets of the town.
In August 2018, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf – all of Rochdale – lost an appeal to avoid being deported, and it was announced they would be stripped of their British citizenship.
All three had previously been convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child and trafficking a child within the UK and respectively sentenced to nine, eight and six years in prison. This was in 2012.
The ringleader of the grooming gang, Shabir Ahmed – known to his victims by the nickname "Daddy" – also lost his appeal against deportation but is still in prison, serving a 22-year term for rape after being found guilty of 30 child rape charges.
Ahmed had led eight others from Rochdale and Oldham in grooming young girls for sex – the victims and survivors all being, at the time, underage white British girls.
In addition to their prison sentences, all nine of the men convicted were ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life.
At the time of the scandal breaking, accusations were made that the authorities had failed to thoroughly investigate the issue amid fears of being accused of racism – indeed, Ahmed, who protested his innocence to the end, even claimed the convictions were a conspiracy by the police and he and the others been targeted because of their ethnicity.
Over the course of several years, the victims, who were aged between 13 and 17, were systematically raped and abused by the group. Displaying classic grooming behaviour, the men plied their young vulnerable victims with alcohol, food and money in return for sex.
On some occasions the girls were beaten if they didn't agree to have sex and on other occasiosn, they were so drunk that they didn't know what was being done to them.
The gang, most of whom knew each other, would pass some of the girls around between them and even paid some of the victims to bring them new girls.
In 2017, the BBC aired acclaimed three-part drama ‘Three Girls’, based on the true events, made with the full cooperation of the victims and their families: to tell the victims’ stories; how they were failed by authorities directly responsible for their protection and how the abuse impacted on their lives.
This was followed by the feature length documentary ‘The Betrayed Girls’, harrowing accounts from victims, some of whom were bravely speaking out for the first time. The documentary also featured interviews with individuals speaking out on behalf of the girls, including manager of the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team Sara Rowbotham, former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver and Chief Prosecutor, Nazir Afzal.
Yet, despite the decision to deport them, the paedophiles are still seemingly living in the town – much to the fury of many local residents, their victims and politicians.
Local MPs, Heywood and Middleton’s Chris Clarkson and Rochdale’s Tony Lloyd have both been vocal in demanding the trio be deported, with Mr Clarkson last year urging the Home Secretary to deport them “as a matter of urgency.”
Their calls have also been echoed by Rochdale council leader, Allen Brett, as well as local group Women Against Groomers, which has demanded legal action against Home Secretary Priti Patel for failing to deport the gang.
Mr Clarkson said: “Last year I wrote to the Home Secretary to voice my concern that these men were still in the community whose trust they so wickedly abused and I know from my conversations with her that she takes this extremely seriously.
“The Home Office is taking the appropriate steps to ensure these people are removed from the country as quickly as possible.
“My primary focus is the wellbeing of the victims and I would strongly caution against speculation or point scoring; this situation is far too serious.”
Mr Lloyd added: “It is simply intolerable that Qari Abdul Rauf is still reportedly living in the area. The women who were subject to his abhorrent abuse should not have to live in fear of possibly bumping into him after the immense courage they showed in getting him, and other gang members sentenced. This is not justice.
“I have repeatedly raised the issue with the Home Secretary and despite promises that action would be taken, these men are still free to roam our streets. I know the people of Rochdale, and across the country, are shocked and saddened by this news and I look to the Home Secretary to finally put an end to this debacle and give those women who should be free of this, the justice they deserve.”
Former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver, who worked on the case, said: "When a case like this hits the headlines, politicians, MPs, police and the authorities release a statement saying how terrible this is, how abhorrent.
"Then the media coverage fades away, and so does their horror. And they do nothing! Yet again. Until the next time it hits the press... and then we get another sound bite. And it just is not good enough.
"When I initially resigned from GMP in 2012 to speak out publicly about this scandal, I never imagined that 10 years later we would still be hearing exactly the same platitudes. Fighting for these girls and countless others like them throughout the UK has become my daily life, and it’s why I started my charity the Maggie Oliver Foundation, to give them a voice.
"We support victims of these horrific crimes every single day as the authorities fail them at every step of the journey. It absolutely sickens me.
"I want to see those in power, who today add their voices to this condemnation, take firm and decisive action. Do something! Let’s have action, not more empty promises. Stop ignoring these monumental failures. Stand up for the victims and don’t allow this to fade away yet again."
Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Prosecutor for North West England, who initiated prosecutions in the case, has also been approached for comment.
When asked why the groomers have still not been deported, the Home Office – which does not comment on individual cases – issued the following statement: “Child Sexual Exploitation is an abhorrent crime and has no place in our society – we are determined to do all we can to tackle it.
“The Home Secretary has been clear that what happened in places such as Rochdale remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience.
“The cases of the foreign national offenders involved in these crimes have recently been reviewed at the request of the Home Secretary and we intend to update the victims through the proper channels when we can.”
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