The boss of Telford Council has quit – meaning he can avoid giving evidence at the town’s sex abuse inquiry.
The local authority launched a probe last year after the Sunday Mirror revealed hundreds of girls fell prey to sex gangs over four decades.
But managing director Richard Partington will not have to testify, as only serving staff can be forced to appear at the upcoming hearing.
Former employees can still give evidence voluntarily and victims last night pleaded with Mr Partington, 53, to take part.
One girl, raped by up to nine men a night for four years, said: “In the interests of truth and justice, Richard Partington has to give evidence.
“We’ve paid his very generous salary for years and it’s disrespectful if he doesn’t testify. We deserve answers.”
Mr Partington has been at the helm of Telford and Wrekin Council since 2011 and was a strong opponent of the Mirror’s call for an abuse inquiry in 2016.
He was one of 10 police and council officials who signed a letter to Tory Amber Rudd saying a probe was not needed in the Shropshire town.
They told the then-Home Secretary: “Given the Government’s independent inquiry already committed to looking at what happened here in Telford, we do not feel at this time that a further inquiry is necessary.”
The council did a U-turn last year after we revealed staff knew of a problem in the 1990s but did not act. Council leader Shaun Davies said: “I accept and regret that some historic practices were not effective.”
The Labour politician also signed the 2016 letter opposing an inquiry. We later linked the abuse to five deaths and also revealed police knew for a decade before investigating.
The local authority said Mr Partington’s departure from his £145,000 post was “mutually agreed”. He is set to step down next month, reportedly with three months’ pay – £36,000.
Councillor Davies said: “We are very grateful to Richard for all his hard work, during which the council has seen many achievements while navigating the toughest-ever financial climate for councils.”