Child grooming whistleblower Maggie Oliver’s happy tears at Pride award

A brave detective who risked her career to highlight the horror of child sex grooming wept happy tears when she was honoured with a Pride of ­Manchester Award.

Maggie Oliver was so appalled by the plight of vulnerable youngsters she was determined to shame the authorities into action.

After the investigation was shelved she quit the police to carry on her crusade to help victims of grooming, child abuse and forced marriage.

Maggie could not be more delighted with her hard-won honour.

She says: “I am over the moon. I was so overwhelmed, I was blubbing like a little girl. My work has taken over my life, I don’t get paid and it is more than a full-time job.

“To hear ordinary people recognise I am trying to make a difference gives me motivation to keep going. It also keeps the subject at the forefront, because we have a long way to go.”

In 2004, Maggie was a detective constable with Greater Manchester Police working on the Operation Augusta probe into a suspected grooming network of older Pakistani-heritage men around Rusholme.

She gained the trust of girls involved, many of whom were in care, and helped identify 97 potential suspects and 26 victims.

In March 2005, while on leave to care for her terminally ill husband Norman, the investigation was dropped due to costs.

Eight suspects committed further offences, including rape.

In 2011, Maggie left the police in protest at the handling of the Rochdale grooming trial and what she saw as the betrayal of a key witness.

She insisted the authorities had covered up the full extent of the crimes.

An independent review found police and social services knew girls were being abused but failed to protect them.

Maggie, who has set up the Maggie Oliver Foundation to help victims. says: “Every day dozens of girls tell me they are being abused.

“What we can do is help them to create a future that isn’t destroyed by the past.”

Actress Denise Welch presented her special recognition award and stars sending video messages included Bear Grylls, Shirley Ballas, Joanna Lumley and Lisa Riley – star of the BBC drama Three Girls which told Maggie’s story.