Nine men arrested over sex grooming in Rochdale

Nine men have been arrested and questioned by detectives investigating a second case of suspected child grooming in Rochdale, police said yesterday. The men, aged 24 to 38, who are suspected of sexual activity with a child, were released on bail yesterday.

Greater Manchester Police would not confirm whether the arrests were related to the conviction last week of nine other men from the town, for luring girls as young as 13 into sex.

The trial, at Liverpool Crown Court, caused national controversy and stirred racial tensions locally, with widespread comment about the fact that all of the sex attackers were of Pakistani or Afghan origin and that their victims were white.

The police said the men arrested in the latest inquiry are not thought to have known each other. Their alleged victim is understood to be one of 47 girls questioned by police during their earlier investigation into a child sexual exploitation ring in the town. Police have described the victim as "vulnerable".

A police spokesman said the arrests were the result of an inquiry into the sexual exploitation of a teenage girl by men since 2005.

The trial of the nine men last week heard that five girls – aged between 13 and 15 – were given alcohol, food and money in return for sex, but there were times when violence was used. The offences happened in 2008 and 2009. The trial judge said that one of the reasons why they treated the girls with so little respect was because they were not from the same community or religion.

The men were convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and other sexual offences, including rape and trafficking for sexual exploitation.