Thursday, 27 October 2016

Tonight, Danczuk in the Lion's Den?

THE 'calling out' of Simon Danczuk by Chief Inspector Ian Hanson with it's implication that it is time for him to 'put up or shut up' is long overdue.  But it should not have been left for a serving police officer to do it.
It should have been done a long time ago by the reviewers of his book ‘Smile for the Camera’ who failed to notice the garbled chronology, the same stories being recounted two or even three times, the absence of any clear methodology, the second or third hand accounts being passed of as ‘evidence’ and the ‘flowery flannel’ which is used in the chapters which are supposed to be the authentic voices of the men who were indecently assaulted by Cyril Smith at Cambridge House.
It should have been done by the journalists who even today are still writing that the book ‘detailed’ allegations against Smith and Knowl View school.  Anyone who actually takes the time to read the book is struck by the grandiose claims yet complete lack of detail to back them up.

It should have been done by the Home Office Select Committee who asked Danczuk to give evidence in the summer of 2014.  In the preceding weeks Danczuk trailed that he was going to be questioned about his book.  A week or so before the meeting this changed to ‘he would name names if he was asked’. In the event the Committee did not question Danczuk about the book but allowed him to change the subject to the so called ‘Dicken’s dossier’.

As a result the press began to put the spotlight on Leon Brittan and Danczuk called for ‘an over-arching inquiry to investigate all allegations of historic abuse’.  Well he got it didn’t he!  It’s on its fourth chairman, is likely to cost more than the £100 millions originally predicted, is unlikely to report until at least 2023 and no-one seems to know what to do with it.  Well done Simon!

Even after Northants police investigated Danczuk's claim that Cyril Smith was found with a boot load of child pornography, taken into custody and subsequently released by the force without charge and found it to be entirely bogus, the media have continued to treat his other claims as entirely credible.  Instead of looking more closely at these claims journalists have regaled us with lurid stories about his private life.

On page 112 of his book Danczuk says: ‘Boys were beaten and raped continually by men as far away as Sheffield who had travelled to Rochdale to take part.'  and a few lines later he has his ‘witness’ say 'These boys were sold to paedophile gangs.'

These claims were not based upon interviews with men who told him this had happened to them. They were based upon what had appeared in a 1991 report sent to Rochdale Education and Social Service departments which said nothing of the sort and a statement attributed to his ‘witness’.  In Danczuk’s own words on page 109 we read:  'For many years he was oblivious to what was happening in the school – until he was promoted to head of care and began to realise that things weren't quite right.'  This was in 1994, when he read the 1991 report.

Any reputable journalist could have asked Rochdale MBC for a copy of this report and checked Danczuk’s claims against the facts.  No doubt the police did just that during Operation Jaguar.  I’d like to have been a fly on the wall when they asked him about his claims in the book!  We do know that the police did interview the ‘witness’ and presumably asked whether he made the statement about boys being ‘sold to paedophile gangs’ attributed to him by Danczuk.

But let’s put aside my scepticism and give Danczuk the benefit of the doubt here. Let’s take his claim at face value. Let’s put the spotlight on what he did when he was approached by men claiming to have been sexually assaulted at Knowl View school.

Now we know the law firm Slater and Gordon were not backward in coming forward as soon as Danczuk’s book was published as can be seen at .  What’s not clear is whether they were interested in helping the police investigate the claims in the book or just touting for business.

When an MP is informed of a crime having been committed his or her duty is the same as that of any other citizen; to encourage the complainant to speak to the police immediately.  I have been told, but cannot independently verify, that this was the policy of the late Jim Dobbin MP in cases where allegations of sexual abuse were reported to him.

There should be no conflict of interest such as might arise if a book was contemplated.  There should no prior discussion of the details of the complaint as this serves only to contaminate the evidence making it more difficult for the police to get at the truth.  The same problems will arise if the police have to conduct interviews with people who have already been interviewed for a TV programme. Too close involvement with the complainant, before the CPS have decided whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, would not be the action of a responsible MP.

After the decision of the CPS that there was insufficient evidence to initiate  criminal proceedings against anyone about what had clearly been some unsavoury happenings at Knowl View, a period of silence from Mr Danczuk would have been welcome.  The major effect of his interventions in the investigation of abuse has been both negative and very expensive to the public purse.  

If tonight’s meeting ends with Mr Danczuk’s credibility severely dented then he has only himself to blame.  In my first review of Danczuk’s book I wrote:
‘The writing style adopted is to let the narrative drive the evidence not the evidence drive the narrative.’ reviews /R3A7XZP51EW0A6/ref=cm_cr_pr_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849548757  

Police investigations have in the words of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northampton to be ‘evidence led’.

John Gummer’s comment in January 2015:
 ‘Anybody who doesn’t have real evidence should recognise that it is a wicked thing to do to make allegations about anybody, even if you don’t like their politics.’  could have been tailor made for Danczuk.

Reviewers, journalists and politicians may be taken in by a forceful and confident narrative.  The police require evidence. And tonight that could prove to be Mr Danczuk’s undoing.

No comments: