AN Altrincham woman who battled to expose fight a child grooming ring in Rochdale has been given a top award.

Maggie Oliver was a detective constable with the Greater Manchester Police, working on Operation Augusta in 2004, a widespread investigation into a suspected grooming network of older Pakistani-heritage men in the Rusholme area.

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

However, a year later, she took compassionate leave for her terminally ill husband Norman.

While away, the investigation was dropped due to concerns over costs. Eight suspects went on to commit further serious sexual offences.

In 2011, Maggie left the police in protest at the handling of the grooming trial and what she saw was the betrayal of a key witness whose trust she had gained.

She became an outspoken critic of the authorities and insisted they had covered up the full extent of grooming and abuse and failed to protect children.

But in January this year, she was vindicated by a damning independent review which found police and social services knew girls were being abused but failed to protect them.

The 64-year-old has just been given a special recognition title at the Manchester Pride of Britain awards and said: “I am over the moon and thrilled to bits and my world is often listening to heartbreaking stories but things like this kind of award keeps me going.

“I am recognised as an expert in child sexual abuse in the UK and helped 1,000 victims in the past year.

“We have got 23 ambassadors working with our foundation and just had some lottery funding worth £10k and will be launching crowdfunding appeals for the foundation soon. All these things try to make a difference for people who have been failed by the system and it is giving them a chance.”

Man United footballer Marcus Rashford also was given a special recognition award for his free school meals campaign.