(2012) New Labour Former Mayor -APOLOGISES FOR GIVING CHARACTER REFERENCE TO PAEDOPHILE RAPIST

A former Mayor of Rochdale admitted to a “silly mistake” in his decision to give evidence during the recent child sex grooming trial in Liverpool that saw nine local men being jailed for between four and nineteen years.

Zulfiquar Ali, who held the mayoral office in 2010, told Rochdale Online that he had been approached by one of the accused, Abdul Qayyum around Christmas time last year and was asked to appear as a character witness.

He went on to say that Qayyum, who was jailed for five years for conspiracy to engage in sexual activities with a child, was one of his constituents who he had previously helped to obtain a taxi-licence. As far as he then knew, Quayyum was a hard working family man and hence he agreed to appear as a witness in order to say this.

Mr Ali went on to say: “In fourteen years as a councillor, my decision to do this is my biggest regret. I made a silly mistake.”

Speaking about the sentences, Mr Ali said that he was satisfied said that “justice had been served”. He said that it sent out “a clear message that this sort of crime was intolerable”. He added that he was “very sorry for the victims and their families” and that this case was “of wider concern to the community and that lessons needed to be learned”.

Mr Ali, who lives in Huddersfield, was a prominent politician in Rochdale until he retired. He was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Central Ward and Cabinet member for Children, Schools and Families.

Another councillor who gave similar evidence, Aftab Hussain, who sits as a Labour councillor in Firgrove and Smallbridge ward, refused to comment and instead referred Rochdale Online to the Leader of the Council, Colin Lambert.

Councillor Lambert said that he would comment when he had spoken with Councillor Hussain. In the meantime he issued the following statement: “While individual councillors have been reported in the media making statements regarding individuals in this case, they do not reflect the views of Rochdale Borough Council.”

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/2/news-headlines/69621/former-mayor-silly-mistake-during-child-sex-grooming-trial

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