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 Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report 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.
There was a misguided “unwillingness to consider that someone in a position of public prominence might be capable of perpetrating sexual abuse”, the report, which was published on Thursday, said.