A former council leader’s claim he was unaware of child sex abuse in Rochdale “defies belief”, a report has found.
An independent inquiry said it was “shameful” that Richard Farnell “refused to accept responsibility for young lives blighted” in the town.
More than 40 men claimed they were abused at Cambridge House hostel, Knowl View school between the early 1960s and mid-1990s.
The report said Mr Farnell “lied to the inquiry during his evidence”.
Pupils at Knowl View were also sexually exploited in the town centre, the bus station and at public toilets across the road from the borough council’s offices over a 20-year period.
The report said Mr Farnell came across as “bullish, self opinionated and unyielding” while giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which heard three weeks of evidence in October.
Authorities in Rochdale showed a “total lack of urgency” to address the sexual exploitation of boys at Knowl View, who were regarded as “authors of their own abuse”, it also found.
Paul Rowen, who was leader of Rochdale Council between 1992-96, also “bore considerable responsibility” for the school and “turned a blind eye to the problems”, the report said.
The panel found “valuable opportunities were lost” in 1998 and 1999 to charge and prosecute the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith who was accused of carrying out abuse in the town.