Monday, 19 November 2012

It Was The Voices That Did It!

Cyril Smith - the Legend Falls

LAST WEEK, Northern Voices was party with others to the opening up of a story that has lied in the shadows for decades.   We cannot claim all the credit as we did not do the original research into Cyril Smith:  that was performed by the editors of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in May 1979, when they first published the story and were threatened by Cyril Smith's solicitors at the time with a 'gagging writ'Private Eye and the New Statesman followed through with reports but the case against 'Smith the Man' was killed before it reached the mainstream media.  Later attempts to resurrect the story also failed because those giving evidence against Sir Cyril Smith lacked the confidence to put their names in the public domain. 

In the last few months, almost by chance, Northern Voices was put in touch through one of our contacts down South with a possible witness and victim, who had not been available in 1979.  He had not been available to the RAP editors because he left Rochdale in the mid-1970s.  His name was Edward Shorrock and I interviewed him the week before last in Rochdale.  I found him to be a convincing and articulate witness, who was both plausible and restrained.  Most importantly he was willing to go on the record and to put his name in the public domain.  This was a significant game changer in the investigation into Sir Cyril Smith and Cambridge House. 

I was then able to make contact with John Walker (a former editor of RAP in the 1970s) and Paul Waugh, a House of Commons journalist who runs the politics / home blog:   .   That's how finally, Northern Voices was able to get two witnesses into what happen at Cambridge House in the early 1960s to go on the record and to give Paul Waugh and Northern Voices their stories about how Cyril Smith ran Cambridge House when he was secretary there.  Barry Fitton, now living in Amsterdam, though he had given a statement to RAP in 1979 under oath was keen to come forward and talk to the media once he knew Eddie had given his story.  In that way Northern Voices, a 52-page, A5 size, small circulation printed journal with a cultural content, that has been going almost a decade and its larger Blog was able provide the voices that last week led to a crucial speech in the House of Commons by Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, on child abuse, and to general the clamour in the mainstream media.
There are still a few copies of printed version of NORTHERN VOICES No.13 available with the Bob Miller obituary inside following our decision to reprint it after the original print order sold out at the staging of the Sophie Lancaster play 'Black Roses' in September, at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. NORTHERN VOICES No.12 with the Cyril Smith 'Instead of an Obituary' is also still available and may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the mid-1960s I met a couple of young people who described to me the sexual abuse they'd experienced at the hands of Cyril Smith. I thought it was common knowledge in Rochdale then. Both of these fellows were homeless and powerless. So I was surprised to read Councillor Eileen Kershaw saying she'd never heard a whisper. It was discussed quite openly almost 50 years ago.