Thursday, 1 November 2012

Private Eye on 'larger-than-life' Northerners

TODAY'S issue of Private Eye follows on from Northern Voices in linking the Jimmy Savile case by asking 'will attention finally be paid to another prominent "larger-than-life" northerner who was abusing vulnerable teenagers in the Sixties?'  Just like Jimmy Savile this jolly man from Rochdale was knighted, despite widespread rumours of his capers with young lads at a Hostel for boys, and as with Savile, the victims' allegations were shrugged-off because the bloke was well liked in political circles.

In the article entitled 'Another dark knight', Private Eye declares:  'We refer to Cyril Smith, the former MP for Rochdale' and the writer goes on to say, 'When Smith died two years ago, Nick Clegg ventured that he was "one of the most likeable politicians on his day".'  As the Eye points out:  'Clegg now says of Savile:  "I just keep asking myself, why did this remain buried for so long".'  This is a bit inconsistent given how the political class kept the lid on the Cyril Smith affair for donkey's years.

The one attempt to bring out the Smith story was in the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in May 1979 when it showed that Smith had, as the Eye says:  'dished out sexual "punishments" to vulnerable youngsters at Cambridge House boys' hostel, which he had founded in the Sixties.'  As one former resident at the hostel, who had been 15 at the time, related in the RAP report:  'Cyril Smith found that I had taken some money, (and) he asked me if I would accept his punishment or be dealt with by the authorities...  He then told me to take my trousers and pants down and bend over his knee.  He trapped my hand between his legs.  He hit me many times with his bare hand and I pleaded with him to stop...  Afterwards he came to my bedroom and wiped my buttocks with a wet sponge.'  Other ex-residents at Cambridge House gave similar accounts of Cyril's behaviour.

The Liberal leader at that time, David Steel complained:  'All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.'  The Lancashire police took the matter seriously by investigating Smith and preparing a report, and a copy was sent to the director of public prosecutions, but, according to Private Eye, this 'seemed to vanish'.

The report in today's Private Eye concludes:  'If all this suggests some kind of institutional cover-up, it wouldn't be the only one in Rochdale.  For years the powers-that-be knew about sexual abuse at Knowl View, a special residential school for children, but did nothing about it.  Knowl View was eventually closed in 1995.  Seven years later a former teacher, David Higgins, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency with young children at the school.  His crimes had been committed in the years following its foundation in 1969 by ... Cyril Smith, who was also a governor.'

See earlier postings on this Blog entitled:  'Jim Savile & Cyril Smith: Dead Men Tell No Lies!' (October 10th, 2012) and 'Jim'll F**k It!:  Larger Than Life Northern Figures' (October 4th, 2012).

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES No.13, now on sale with all sorts of stuff others won't touch. 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.

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