Saturday, 16 March 2013

Rochdale's Cyril Smith Tried To Bully Police

REPORTS today suggest that in 1970, when Cyril Smith was contemplating standing as a parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming General Election, that he tried to bully the police into handing over the names of his accusers, who had made allegations that he had beaten and abused them while they were residents in a hostel for boys in Rochdale.  Documents now released show that Smith, the late Liberal MP, went into a Rochdale police station and asked to interview officers dealing with his case.  At the time Smith was a well know and influential councillor in Rochdale.  The police were investigating claims that he had interfered with young boys while he was secretary of Cambridge House hostel which had closed in 1964. 

The police transcript of the meeting with Cyril Smith in which he asked about the case against him runs as follows:
Police Officer'Well, very briefly the allegations concerning that, are that you went along there and examined these boys by taking their pants down.  Whether that's right or not, I don't know.'
Smith:  'I understand that that's the subject of the investigation.'
Police Officer'Which, pending on what explanation you put forward, would seem improper.'
Police Officer 'If my information is right, you spoke to one of the boys, who has been interviewed.'
Police Officer'What was that about?'
Smith'He told me what you had been asking him.  He told me he had made a statement to you.  I've seen two of them and the third came to see me.  I've asked them if they have made statements.'
Police Officer'I must warn you about interfering with witnesses.  The only reason I'm here this morning is because you wanted to see me.  I did not want to see you.  You must have some suspicion about you and them, about what's in the statements or you would not be here, would you?'
Smith:  'Well-er-I'm hesitating, not because I'm frightened, but I've seen a solicitor obviously, and he says I must make no statement or answer no questions....'
When police finally forwarded their evidence they included a covering note in which the police wrote: 'He has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys to whom he had a special responsibility.. he appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault.'
The police submitted the file to prosecutors on the 11th, March 1970, but it was decided not to proceed with the case against Smith.  Smith stood for election in the General Election later that year, but lost to the sitting Labour MP for Rochdale, Jack McCann.  At the time this caused some bitterness, because Jack McCann had been friends and closely associated politically with Cyril while they were both in the Labour Party throughout most of the 1960s.  Cyril Smith, two years later, won the Rochdale seat in a by-election for the Liberal Party following the death of Jack McCann.  Smith held the seat in Rochdale until 1992.

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