Third man arrested after council leader’s car set on fire

A third man has been arrested after a council leader’s car was set alight.

The 21-year-old was taken into custody on Thursday on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He has since been released pending further inquiries.

Police were called just before 1.30am on 13 July to the Glodwick area of the town to respond to reports of a car on fire outside a residential house.

An investigation found that the car belonged to Oldham Council leader, Arooj Shah, and that it had been “deliberately ignited”, according to Greater Manchester Police.

No-one was injured in the incident, but the flames were so intense that a neighbouring property was damaged.

A 22-year-old and a 23-year-old man were also arrested over the same allegations.

Following the earlier arrests, Detective Chief Inspector Wesley Knights said the force would “not rest until the circumstances around this incident are fully understood, and we have found and brought to justice those responsible for this reckless act”.

The incident came barely two months after the Labour member was elected the north’s first ever female Muslim council leader.

Speaking at the time about her struggles battling racism and misogyny as well as the opposition she had sometimes faced from traditionalists within her own community, she said: “I do feel like I have a huge duty to get it right, because I want any Asian woman who’s looking at me and watched the bullshit that I’ve gone through to feel like they can do it too.”

After the arson attack, Cllr Shah insisted she would “not be diverted from the task in hand”.

“The last 24 hours have been very difficult and I can’t say the attack outside my family home hasn’t affected me and the people I love, because it has,” she said in a statement in July.

“But what I am clear about is, whoever was responsible, and for whatever reason, I will not be diverted from the task in hand.”

She continued: “My sole focus is on the town and its people. I came into public life because I demand better for every man, woman and child here.

“To realise better will require all the energy that I, and everyone in this chamber, and more widely, all the council and partners have in us.”

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them on 0161 856 9059 quoting incident number 0041 of 13/07/2021. Reports can also be made anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.