Insurers will not pay for the damage caused by the Oldham race violence because of a 120-year-old law that exempts them from paying when the police officially declares a riot.

The Riot (Damages) Act of 1886 says the local police must pay for damage caused if they fail to prevent people behaving in a “riotous or tumultuous” manner.

The costs of the Oldham damage, now believed to be close to £2m, will have to be met by the taxpayer, through the Greater Manchester Police Authority.

However, insurers will still have to cough up in the case of the Burnley and Bradford civil disobedience claims because those situations never reached official riot status.