POLICE have been called in after UKIP supporters delivered letters claiming that “Labour controlled Bolton” was being investigated in relation to child sex abuse.

The letter — sent out as part of campaigning for the Harper Green by-election — claimed that Bolton was being run by a “politically correct Labour brigade” and that the police’s Operation Doublet was investigating the town.

Labour councillors have called the letter “malicious, untrue and a flagrant breach of election law”.

Police have confirmed that neither Bolton Council nor any Bolton councillors are being investigated as part of Operation Doublet.

The letter reads: “The Labour controlled towns of Bolton, Bury, Oxford and Derby, which are run by the politically correct/diversity Labour brigades, are under investigation as part of police operation Doublet following the Rotherham and Rochdale scandals in which disgusting child sex abuse has been going on.”

Senior Labour councillor Nick Peel said that “any average person” reading the letter would assume that the letter was referring to Bolton Council.

He said: “No one is suggesting the police aren’t investigating child sex abuse across Greater Manchester, which may include Bolton, but this letter specifically mentions the Labour controlled town of Bolton. That suggests the council is involved and that is 100 per cent false.

“Bolton Council is a national leader in safeguarding children. It is something we are very proud of and take extremely seriously.


“This will damage the reputation of the town and the services we run.”

The letter was created by the party’s campaigns team on behalf of UKIP candidate Jeff Armstrong who will contest the by-election next month.

It was signed off by Joan Johnson, chairman of Bolton UKIP, who also ran it by the party’s North West regional office.

Mrs Johnson said the letter used information that was already in the public domain citing a story published in a national paper in August about Operation Doublet.

She added: “We have not invented this or exaggerated it. We have not implicated the council and are just drawing attention to the fact that the police are investigating in Bolton. We are not intending any malice at all.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “No councils or councillors are under investigation as part of Operation Doublet. We have a number of ongoing investigations into child sexual exploitation, one of which is Operation Doublet. The majority of the offences were committed in Rochdale between 2003 and 2013.”

Ch Insp Carol Martin said: “We are looking into the matter to see if there is anything which crosses the threshold of criminality.

“When a leaflet is in dispute like this it is advised that the party does not continue to circulate it while we are investigating.”

Labour councillors are calling for UKIP to immediately retract the comments and distribute a letter correcting what they have said and apologising to the council.

The matter was reported to police by Farnworth councillor Jean Gillies, who is the election agent for Labour’s Harper Green candidate Susan Haworth.

Cllr Gillies said: “The letter came through my door and I was totally shocked.

“I’m appalled by it. They are casting aspertions on the council’s social services staff both past and present.”

UKIP candidate Mr Armstrong said: “It would be unwise to comment on the matter while a police investigation is ongoing.”

The Bolton News: