A SADDLEWORTH father behind an online petition calling for convicted Saddleworth Parish Councillor Mike Buckley to be removed from public office has spoken out about the motives behind his campaign.
Buckley must take part in the Internet Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme, is part way through a 28-day curfew and is subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.
Calls for his resignation from Saddleworth Parish Council followed, including from Council chairman Neil Allsopp who said “it would be inappropriate for Cllr Buckley to continue”.
But Buckley insisted he will not step down, saying “my responsibility is to those who elected me to the Council. I intend to carrying on doing that to the best of my abilities.”
Shortly after, an online petition entitled ‘Remove Convicted Criminal Mike Buckley From Public Office’ was created to push for Buckley’s dismissal from the Council and other public groups.
The petition has gained nearly 500 signatures so far and the man behind it – going by the pseudonym Mark – has written an open letter to explain why. His open letter reads:
Dear Mr Buckley,
This was a letter I thought I’d never have to write.
My name is Mark (not my real name, obviously), I’m a 42-year old married father of two from Saddleworth and I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse. There we go, I’ve said it. The sky hasn’t fallen in and I’m still here.
When I heard the news of your arrest last year I felt upset that a man from my own community had committed such a crime. Then I read the details of Project Spade, the international police operation that caught you, and I felt sick to the stomach.
You paid a criminal organisation to supply you with photographs and videos of naked children. As a result of police actions against the company, 378 vulnerable children (like I had been 35 years before) were rescued from an unimaginable life of cruelty and abuse.
You contributed directly to that Mr Buckley. You were charged, convicted and have paid the price. But have you?
In the period between your charge and your conviction, the only comforting factor for me was that when the trial was over, you would apologise and retreat from public life.
So you can imagine the horror I felt last week when you announced that your crimes were to have no bearing and you intended to carry on working in the public realm.
For a man who has been convicted of such a serious crime to have a say in local affairs, including the future of Saddleworth School, is highly inappropriate. So last week I started a petition to have you removed from Public Office. It’s been a resounding success and within just a few days I’ve had nearly 500 local people signing and demanding your resignation.
I would like you to read that petition Mr Buckley. I would like you to read the comments of all your constituents. And then I’d like you to do the decent thing and resign from Saddleworth Parish Council and any other public bodies you work on.
You owe it to the child victims of sexual abuse.
You owe it to the people of Saddleworth.
You owe it to yourself.