A former health worker has been awarded an MBE for the role she played in exposing a child sex abuse ring in Rochdale.
Sara Rowbotham worked as the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team co-ordinator from 2004 to 2014, where she repeatedly raised concerns about dozens of young girls who she believed to be at risk.
Sara was concerned that girls as young as thirteen were being plied with drink and drugs and ‘passed around’ by older men who used them for sex, and subsequently made hundreds of referrals detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people.
She became an integral part of the prosecution of nine men, who were each convicted of sex trafficking and other offences including rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
In 2017 a drama on the scandal, Three Girls, was released by the BBC and saw Maxine Peake portray the role of Sara. Following this, there were overwhelming calls for her to be formally recognised for her services to the Rochdale community.
And on Tuesday, March 15th, Sara was appointed MBE for services to young people at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Speaking to PA News Agency about receiving the prestigious award, Sara said: “I’m quite emotional really, it’s been an exciting and really lovely day.
“It’s quite emotional to think things have come so far, and to receive this honour is really important. It really reminds me of those times and it’s almost a bit of a trigger after coming to the end of such a horrible situation.
“To be recognised for the hard work and energy and effort of not only myself but the rest of my team is really important.”
She went on to stress the importance of people understanding the complexities of exploitation, saying it is a ‘really difficult phenomena’.
She said: “I did feel as though I was kind of being pushed aside – for then everybody else to recognise that I did the right thing is validation really. The energy and effort that was put in, the anger and the frustration that I felt is acknowledged.
“I think it [abuse] probably is still happening but what our work did was allow victims to come forward.”
Sara now works as a Labour Councillor for North Middleton Ward.
Charley Gadd died after ‘messing around’ with his parents in prank gone wrong
A heartbreaking update
An inquest has heard that the university student who was found dead after going missing from The Warehouse Project had run away as a ‘prank’.
Tragically, Charley Gadd was found dead in the River Irwell near MediaCity on January 10th after a month-long search by police.
It’s now been reported that Charley had run away from his parents during a night out in a prank that turned tragic.
While out with his parents, Jolyon and Kimberley Gadd, at The Warehouse Project on December 11th 2021 he ‘ran off’ while messing around, with Jolyon saying his son had ‘already run away once that night as a joke’.
He said: “I went chasing after him, running a couple of blocks. He fell over and I picked him up. He found it really funny that I was so unfit and we walked off arm in arm. Then we went to get something for him to eat, but he ran off again.”
According to his parents, the 20-year-old ran away while near the Spar Store in St Mary’s Gate at roughly 1.10am on Saturday December 11th – his last movements were seen on CCTV as he headed towards St Annes Street near the Royal Exchange Theatre around 1.15am.
His worried family reported him missing to GMP after spending hours trying to locate him.
Police Coroners Officer David Wood from GMP told Stockport Coroners Court that CCTV showed Charley walking towards St Mary’s parsonage, before being spotted in a car park overlooking the River Irwell.
According to Wood, at 1.18am Charley headed across the car park, which was bordered by a steep drop down into the Irwell, and he was not seen to leave on any camera footage – his body was tragically found several weeks later.
Addressing his parents, Senior Coroner Alison Mutch said: “There was nothing you could do to change what happened, it is one of those tragic accidents that sometimes life brings.”
She added: “This is such a very, very sad situation, particularly for Charley’s family who have lost a beloved son and a beloved brother. It’s clear that Charley was a very intelligent young man, with a very bright future in front of him.
“He was very close with his parents who had a very loving relationship, they had music in common and had been to various music venues together including Wembley, Brighton and then Manchester in December.
“It’s clear that on the night in question Charley was messing around and ran off and sadly became completely disorientated in a city that he was unfamiliar with. I can only imagine the anguish his parents felt that night looking for Charley and wondering what on earth to do.”
Mutch continued: “At that time of year it would have been very challenging to get out. I am satisfied it was a complete accident that happened due to a series of bad luck.
“The car park was dark and he would have been able to see the bright lights on the other side but would have had no idea there was a river between him and the bright lights.”
Jolyon said of his son, who lived in Sudbury, Suffolk: “He packed a huge amount into a tragically short life. I was hugely proud of him. I could not have been prouder.”
Angela Rayner accuses Dominic Raab of ‘snobbery’ after he mocked her opera trip
The deputy prime minister took issue with Rayner’s recent outing to the opera
Angela Rayner has accused Dominic Raab of ‘snobbery’ after he mocked her recent trip to the opera during this week’s PMQs.
The deputy Labour leader, from Stockport, was pictured sipping champagne at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera last week, where she watched the Marriage of Figaro.
Her outing took place on the same week the RMT rail strikes were taking place, causing severe travel disruption across the country.
Raab asked MPs: “Where was she when the comrades were on the picket line last Thursday? Where was she when the Labour front bench were joining them rather than standing up for the public?
“She was at the Glyndebourne music festival sipping champagne, listening to opera. Champagne socialism is back in the Labour Party.”
Raab was also seen winking at Rayner following his remark, an action that has been met by confusion and disgust by many critics.
In response, Rayner said in a statement shortly afterwards: “My advice to the deputy prime minister is to cut out the snobbery and brush up on his opera.
“The Marriage of Figaro is the story of a working-class woman who gets the better of a privileged but dim-witted villain.
“Judging by his own performance today, Dominic Raab could learn a lesson about opening up the arts to everyone, whatever their background.”
Rayner later took to Twitter to share a photo of herself and one of the show’s violinists Tom Esiner at the event, writing: “Dominic Raab won’t approve but I did indeed go the opera last week (it cost me £62).
“Tom Eisner, a working-class lad from Buxton near where I grew up kindly invited me. He’s been playing violin at Glyndebourne for 36 years. Never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.”
And in response to a social media user who said she feels ‘soiled’ after seeing Raab’s wink, Rayner simply responded: “Imagine how I feel!”.
Captain Sir Tom Moore’s family formally investigated over charity management concerns
The Charity Commission had previously prevented Sir Tom’s daughter from earning a 6 figure salary as the foundation’s chief executive
The family of Captain Sir Tom Moore are to be formally investigated by watchdogs over concerns they personally profited from the charity set up in the late veteran’s name.
The Charity Commission initially opened a case into The Captain Tom Foundation in March 2021, where it began reviewing the set-up and management of the organisation.
There, the commission prevented Sir Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore from being appointed as its chief executive on a £100,000-a-year salary.
It had also questioned an earlier attempt to appoint her on a £60,000, three-day-a-week role.
While Hannah resigned from the position, her husband Colin remains a trustee.
And now, this case has escalated into a full inquiry after fresh evidence emerged of potentially serious misconduct.
According to the Guardian, the inquiry will examine concerns that a private company operated by Captain Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband, Colin, potentially profited by trademarking the ‘Captain Tom’ brand without objection from the foundation.
Concerns have also been raised about the trustees’ decision-making, how the charity was governed and the handling of potential conflicts of interest with companies connected to the Ingram-Moore family.
Helen Stephenson, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The late Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired the nation with his courage, tenacity and concern for others. It is vital that public trust in charity is protected, and that people continue to feel confident in supporting good causes.
“We do not take any decision to open an inquiry lightly, but in this case our concerns have mounted.
“We consider it in the public interest to examine them through a formal investigation, which gives us access to the full range of our protective and enforcement powers.”
In a statement released last night, the Ingram-Moores said they ‘welcomed the press release issued today by the Charity Commission, which has found no issues in the accounts of the Captain Tom Foundation, published in February 2022’.
The Captain Tom Foundation was registered in June 2020 following the war veteran’s fundraising efforts during the Covid pandemic, which saw him raise £38m for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.