Outrage in Rochdale over Times headline: 'Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town'

The Times has been condemned by Greater Manchester Police over the headline to a story about the killing of an imam which called Rochdale "sex grooming town".

The headline: "Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town" appeared in The Times on Saturday. The online headline has now changed to remove the final three words.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said on Twitter: "This is an awful headline, I hope @thetimes can apologise to Mr Uddin's family and, indeed, the people of Rochdale."

Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi described it as "appalling".

Chief constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins has published an open letter to The Times on Twitter.

In it he said: "The headline has no relevance to the horrific murder of a former imam in Rochdale. Greater Manchester Police and community leaders have been working hard to ensure all communities in Rochdale are kept informed of efforts to bring the offender to justice.

"We have strong relationships with communities in Rochdale and I have received much feedback about the outrage that the article has caused.

"Clearly, horrific murders such as this, have potential to undermine community confidence and create tension between different parts of the community.

"Your headline and its irrelevance to this case have the potential to cause community tension. It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful law abiding Muslims and no Muslims living in Rochdale, who are shocked by this murder.

"Greater Manchester Police detectives remain open minded about the circumstances behind this murder. We have not ruled out that the murder may be racially motivated, but at this stage we don't have evidence to suggest it is either.

"I would hope in the circumstances you issue an immediate apology and provide a response."

Press Gazette has asked The Times for a comment.

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