Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Harvey Proctor: Goddard Inquiry & 'Long Grass'

by Les May
LAST August, Harvey Proctor courageously sacrificed his anonymity in order to expose what he evidently considered an abuse of process in the way that accusations of child abuse and being a party to murder had been investigated.  Yesterday he took the fight literally to Scotland Yard's door by holding a second press conference about the affair just a few metres away at St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster.  

But the most interesting thing he had to say was not about the accusations or the police investigation, but about the public inquiry into historical child abuse and a separate judge-led probe into how Scotland Yard dealt with claims against public figures.

He said, 'The outcome of these two fake inquiries will be a whitewash and a cover-up and a deliberate exercise in kicking the issue into the long grass until the architects of the scandal have moved on to collect their pensions.'
The 'overarching' Goddard inquiry will probably be taking evidence for the next five years according to the most optimistic predictions and up to ten years if we believe the most pessimistic.   It has been suggested that to digest the material collected and to write the final report will take a further three years.  
If these predictions are reasonably accurate the results of an inquiry announced in 2014 will become available in 2023 or even as late as 2028.  That is very 'long grass' indeed.
The Garnham inquiry was established by Rochdale council in 2014 to look at the allegations against Cyril Smith relating to Cambridge House which date from the 1960s, and were exclusively revealed in the Rochdale Alternative Paper in 1979 (RAP), and the allegations of abuse at Knowl View special school which were first publicly aired in 1995.  Both were 'rediscovered' by Simon Danczuk sometime after 2012 and presented in a garbled form in his book 'Smile for the Camera'.  The report of the inquiry was due to be available by the end of July 2014.
But recently the Garnham inquiry was abandoned and seemingly subsumed into the Goodard inquiry which on the most optimistic assumptions will nor report until 2023.  Which will be some sixty years after Cyril Smith's activities at Cambridge House and by which time the men on the receiving end of his attentions will be approaching eighty.
It won't be quite so long in the case of Knowl View; just about thirty five years.  But there is a 'sting in the tail' in the story of Knowl View.  When this story was aired in 1995 there were claims of a 'cover up' by Rochdale council.  Such a 'cover up' could only have taken place between 1991 when Aids worker Phil Shepherd reported on the high levels of sexual activity between the boys, and 1994 when the school closed.  The two council leaders during this time were Richard Farnell and Paul Rowan.
'Smile for the Camera' has ten pages devoted to Knowl View.  And Cyril Smith's name is very prominent on seven of them.  There is certainly little emphasis on the claims of a 'cover up'.  Are we being carefully steered away from the very idea of a 'cover up'?
As I am more inclined to think in terms of 'cock up' not 'cover up' such thoughts had never occurred to me until idly flicking through the acknowledgements in Danczuk's book a couple of days ago I came across the name of the same Richard Farnell who was being thanked for allowing himself to be interviewed.  Presumably the question of a 'cover up' about the goings on at Knowl View was never raised.

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