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Abuse Claims Against 'Senior Rochdale Labour Figure'

Rumours locally have persisted that allegations have been made against a member of Rochdale Labour Group, the Prole Star has been told.

It is not known whether the allegations are connected to either the Knowl View investigation or other CSA inquiries.

Sources have said that claims of sexual abuse against ' a senior figure' have been made by more than one victim during the past two years.

It is not the first time abuse by a senior member has been alleged: earlier this year it was claimed that disgraced MP Cyril Smith had 'done a deal' with Labour to keep a lid on his abuse of children, threatening to publicise evidence that 'an unnamed council leader' from the early 90s had abused a child in a public toilet.

Rochdale Labour has been thrown into turmoil this year as a result of the investigation into abuse at Knowl View school, with members variously describing parts of the local party as a 'cesspit' and 'a disgrace'.

They have claimed that some of the party hierarchy have deliberately tried to suppress CLP motions and even discussion of the issues which have come to light as a result of the inquiry. Former CLP Secretary Sharon Maclean resigned her post in protest at the lack of action by Labour both locally and nationally.

'Members have been pleading with senior members both locally and nationally to step in and deal with what are a large number of extremely serious problems, to no avail' said a local activist.

He also claimed that there are 'a number of members' who ought to face action for offences including fraud and possible abuse.

Former council leader Richard Farnell, who resigned last week, has been a key figure, with members calling for his suspension after he was accused of lying to the inquiry by claiming he knew nothing about the abuse of children at Knowl View.

Lawyers claimed that it was'inconceivable' that he had no knowledge of abuse at the school at the time - although Mr Farnell strongly denies this and has said there is 'no evidence' that he was made aware of it.

His resignation followed votes by 4 CLP branches calling for his suspension, a call backed by lawyers representing Knowl View victims, who said he was 'not fit' to continue as council leader.

Mr Farnell blamed his decision to quit on a campaign by 'minority extremists' - and has been supported by some fellow councillors including John 'fine the homeless' Blundell, but has scant support elsewhere.

Councillor Allen Brett, former agent for disgraced 'sex pest Simon Danczuk, won Monday's vote for new council leader, and pending a meeting on Thursday, will take over the role - although many local members think the job should have gone to Cllr Jacqueline Beswick. Cllr Beswick and fellow Cllr Peter Williams have said they will not serve in a Brett cabinet.

It may prove to be a short break from office for Mr Farnell. Mr Brett, who gave his backing and 'hopes' the inquiry will prove 'everything Richard said was true', is rumoured to be considering appointing his predecessor as deputy.

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