Tuesday, 4 October 2016

'Old News from Knowl View?'

by Les May

Operation Jaguar was launched following reports of both physical and sexual abuse that at Knowl View residential school for boys from 1969 until the school closed in 1995.

After reviewing 13 files of evidence submitted by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) relating to 27 suspects and 16 complainants the Crown Prosecution Service decided that no prosecution should take place and GMP have indicated that no further action will be taken in relation to these allegations.

Some of these allegations were made public in 1995 in an Independent on Sunday report which was based upon a 1991 report submitted to Rochdales education department by AIDs worker Philip Shepherd.  This is what the report actually said.

One boy who is homosexual has contact with an adult outside the school.  Several of the senior boys indulge in oral sex with one another.

Reputedly five of the junior boys have been or are involved in 'cottaging' in and around public toilets.  Men as far away as Sheffield are believed to be aware of this activity and travel to Rochdale to take part.
'One eight-year-old is thought to have been involved.  The police are aware of the problem.  What action has been taken is not known.

'One rent boy has been removed from the school.  The suggestion that he may return soon has angered the staff.

'Some boys have been "forced" to have sex with others.'

and this is what Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker claim it says in their book
Smile for the Camera.

'In matter of fact language, the report described the extreme sexual abuse that young boys had been subjected to.  Boys were beaten and raped continually by men as far away as Sheffield who had travelled to Rochdale to take part.' page 112

A few lines later they quote their informant Mr Martin Digan as saying, 'These boys were sold to paedophile gangs.'  Of course neither they nor Mr Digan provide any evidence for this.

What Mr Shepherds report clearly indicated is that the major problem was sexual activities between the boys, some of it seemingly coercive.  A later report by psychologist Valerie Mellor came to substantially the same conclusion.

Last week, both Mr Danczuk and Mr Digan have appeared on television complaining about the decision of the CPS not to prosecute.  But faced with statements from Mr Danczuk about what happened at Knowl View which are so clearly at variance with what Mr Shepherd actually wrote, one must have some sympathy with the GMP which has been faced with the task sorting the fact from the fiction.  At any time in the past two and a half years Mr Digan could have dissociated himself from what Mr Danczuk claims he said but I am not aware that he has chosen to do so.

The eagerness of Mr Danczuk and Mr Baker to implicate Cyril Smith in the unsavoury activities at Knowl View has served only to confuse the issue still further.  As I show in my earlier review of their book Smile for the Camera they provide no evidence that Smith was involved in any kind of abuse at Knowl View.  I doubt this will stop Mr Danczuk peddling his stories.

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