Priti Patel last night vowed to get members of the Rochdale grooming gang deported after they were ordered out of Britain six years ago.
The main victim of the sex-ring gang, known as Girl A, yesterday slammed the Government for its failure to kick the convicted criminals out of the country and demanded an explanation from the Home Secretary.
She spoke out after father-of-five Abdul Rauf, 51, was pictured freely buying food and drinks in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, where he and other gang members groomed and sexually abused young girls.
Rauf was jailed in 2012 for six years for his part in the gang. However, some of those who were convicted are still in the UK and free to move around Rochdale and Oldham despite deportation orders in 2015.
After coming under political pressure to act yesterday, Ms Patel has now promised to boot out foreign criminals under tough new immigration rules which will allow her to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles.
Aides told the Sun the Home Secretary is ‘straining every sinew to get these men deported’, adding: ‘They are some of most complex cases the Home Office has seen – but a new immigration plan will help make it easier.’
Priti Patel last night vowed to deport the Rochdale grooming gang after its ringleader was pictured stocking up on fizzy drinks in the town where he abused children nine years ago
Abdul Rauf, 51, had been pictured buying food and drinks in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, where he and other gang members groomed and sexually abused young girls
Under the new plans, the Home Office could kick out the likes of Rauf. Convicted criminals facing deportation would need to state their case upfront in one go, with the offender having to prove their circumstances have changed.
At least one member of the Rochdale sex grooming gang renounced his Pakistani citizenship during his trial, it is understood. ‘They are good at playing the game,’ a source told the Sun newspaper.
When Rauf was released on licence in 2014 he was told he faced deportation to Pakistan because he holds a dual-nationality passport.
Scandalously, however, Rauf remains free to move around Rochdale – one of three former taxi drivers still fighting efforts to throw them out of the country.
Already one victim has revealed how she had ‘never been so scared in all my life’ after bumping into her attacker in the town.
Campaigners have warned the continuing failure to deport them would continue to blight the lives of the girls, now in their twenties and thirties.
Girl A, now 28 and played by Molly Windsor in the BBC drama Three Girls, told the Sun: ‘We were told they would be kicked out of the country.
‘Knowing that had been done would have been a huge help for all of us in trying to rebuild our lives. But instead we’re still haunted by the paedophiles who raped and trafficked us. Every day we run the risk of bumping into them.’
Campaigners and politicians yesterday called for government action, with Tory MP Andrew Bridgen thundering ‘there can be few individuals more deserving of deportation’ than father-of-five Rauf.
Nazir Afzal, who as Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England was instrumental to bringing the men to justice, said there could be ‘no reasonable excuse’ for the continuing failure to throw the trio out of the country.
‘I feel enormous sympathy for the victims who are reliving the terrible trauma because of the lack of urgency on the part of the Home Office to carry out the deportation order,’ he said.
The Rochdale grooming gang’s abuse was dramatised in a BBC programme called Three Girls
‘The message it sends to criminals is that they can move on with their lives while their victims continue to suffer.’
Rauf was part of a nine-strong grooming gang convicted for targeting 47 girls as young as 13 between 2005 and 2008.
They plied the girls with drugs and alcohol and passed them around for sex. The youngsters were assaulted and raped by as many as five men, one after the other, often multiple times.
Rauf wept in the dock, claiming one of his victims ‘looked maybe 30’ and saying he made a mistake. He was jailed for six years for trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
The trial judge condemned the gang for their ‘callous, vicious and violent’ attacks motivated by ‘lust and greed’. Their crimes were dramatised in the BBC’s Bafta-winning Three Girls.
After he was jailed in 2012, then home secretary Theresa May ordered that Rauf be stripped of his citizenship, along with fellow abusers Abdul Aziz, now 50, and Adil Khan, 51.
All three are dual nationals, having moved to the UK from Pakistan but gaining British citizenship due to their time in the country. They appealed on the grounds that their family life would be harmed, but in 2018 the plea was rejected.
In 2019 the Mail discovered Rauf living close to where some of the attacks took place. This weekend he was seen at a store in Rochdale stocking up on food and fizzy drinks.
‘It’s awful to think a victim could bump into him,’ an onlooker told the Sun. Only one of the original gang, all but one of them of British-Pakistani origin, is thought to remain behind bars – ringleader Shabir Ahmed, 68.
Maggie Oliver, a former Greater Manchester Police detective who quit to speak out about failures in dealing with grooming gangs, branded the deportation scandal ‘another kick in the teeth’ for the victims. She said it exposed ‘monumental failures’.
Any foreign criminal sentenced to more than 12 months in prison is liable for automatic deportation. However, guidelines say those who have finished their jail terms should be detained only if removing them is a realistic prospect.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The cases of the foreign national offenders involved in these crimes have recently been reviewed at the request of the Home Secretary.’