Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lord Steel Nominated Shamed Rochdale MP for knighthood

Information Commissioner forces Government's hand in revelation of man behind Sir Cyril!

A Daily Star investigation has exposed that the former Liberal Party leader David Steel proposed Cyril Smith for a knighthood.  Smith, who was knighted in 1988 and who died in 2010, has now had his reputation become enmeshed in a a trail of child abuse scandals in Rochdale and beyond. 
The Liberal Democrat Party, that was formed out of the old Liberal Party, has said that it was not aware of Cyril Smith's crimes during his lifetime. 
Yet the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which has now compelled the Government to publish who nominated Smith for a knighthood, has said that while the full extent of Smith's activities were not known at the time of his nomination in 1988, 'there was quite widespread knowledge at that time that he was the subject of allegations'
In the latest issue of Northern Voices (NV14 - Summer/ Autumn 2013) a former editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) John Walker has written how in 1978/79 his 'small community magazine... decided to investigate what lay behind the rumours of the "Smith story" that had circulated in political circles in the town (Rochdale) for a decade.'  Mr. Walker continues:
'In the course of the six month investigation, the paper (RAP) interviewed more than 30 people, including seven former residents of Cambridge House, senior local politicians and police officers and council officials, all on an "off the record" basis, about (Cyril's) activities at the hostel.  Having had every word of the story they published libel-read by three independent sets of lawyers, ..., RAP published a 2,000 word account of (Smith's) sexual and physical abuse of teenage boys at Cambridge House.'
The RAP editors in 1979 then  sought the views of then leader of the Liberal Party, David Steel, and reply came from Steel's press secretary:
'It is not a very friendly gesture publishing that.  All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.'

Well there you go!  Last Sunday's Daily Star repeated this quote and its journalist Jonathan Corke wrote:
'... last month the Information Commissioner's Office ruled that Mr Steel's involvement in recommending him for a knighthood should be made public.  The Cabinet Office, whose ministers include Lib Dems Nick Clegg and David Laws, spent more than six months trying to hide the revelation from us.'

It had been claimed disclosure would breach data protection rules but the ICO found that there was a 'legitimate public interest' in it being disclosed.

Tomorrow's Rochdale Observer quotes a Lib Dem 'spokesperson' as saying  'they were unaware Smith was a child abuser during his lifetime', and that 'His actions were not known or condoned by anyone in the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats'.  It is also alleged in the Rochdale Observer that 'Lord David Steel has always denied any knowledge of Smith's actions.'

Northern Voices has just received a response by e-mail to this above quote from John Walker, who together with David Bartlett in May 1979 edited the issue of RAP that broke the original story, and he now says:  'This is clearly misleading, at the very least.'

The blue plaque commemorating Cyril Smith was removed in 2012, but Rochdale Town Hall still apparently has a 'Cyril Smith room', and is it true that he is still a freeman of the borough of Rochdale?

A few copies of NORTHERN VOICES 14, are still on sale at some of our usual outlets with coverage of our role in the outing of Cyril Smith. John Walker, a former editor of RAP (the Rochdale Alternative Paper), in a leading feature documents the intimate story of Cyril Smith which was used as the basis of the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches last September on the eve of the Lib-Dem annual conference. Since he left RAP Mr. Walker has occasionally contributed to Private Eye, here he is flattering in his praise of N.V. and he writes of us 'being part of that long tradition of a radical press, that has never been afraid to call into question abuses of the powerful.' 


The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 14, may also be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' sent to
Jim Petty,
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,
Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com 


Bob said...

Could have been worse - Jeremy Thorpe

victim said...

I was told on Monday afternoon that the Rochdale Observer was about run this story, I wish I could say I'm surprised, but sadly it would seem that David Steel was happy to move what he did, without thinking about all those victims who suffered at the hands of a bully and abuser many of whom still have sleepless nights after all these years. It would seem that the powers that be, David Steel and his party, were only to happy too reward a thug and an child abuser, along with the help of others, without a care for protecting very young children & teenagers. Sorry for going off on one, but it makes me quite cross to think that the system and powers that be failed; they where suppose protect very young children and teenagers failed so very badly.