by Brian BamfordTHIS week, Simon Danczuk the current MP for Rochdale, claimed in the Daily Mail that he met John Walker only twice before Danczuk's book 'Smile for the Camera' was written and he said Mr. Walker had nothing to do with the book - and so did not receive a donation from him or his colleague and co-author, Mr. Matthew Baker.
As a former journalist, Mr Walker had previously worked for the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), which first exposed the then LibDem Rochdale politician Cyril Smith back in May 1979.
It ought to be noted that when Walker and his joint-editor David Bartlett made their revelations in RAP in 1979, they did so at great risk to themselves: their jobs were vulnerable, as they worked as lecturers for the local authority at a time when Cyril Smith had great local influence and he did take legal advice which produced a solicitor's letter but this only ultimately resulted in the threat of injunction against their paper RAP and some modest legal costs to them, which as anticipated frightened off the weak-kneed main-stream press. Only Private Eye went on to publish the story based on the RAP revelations.
Last week, following the dedication of a toilet block at a school Mr Walker, in a tongue-in-cheek gesture told the Daily Mail that he and his wife, Sandra, of the London-based Sohm Schools Support had dubbed the facilities the 'Simon Danczuk Toilet Block' as part of their programme to improve two schools in a tiny village in Gambia.
In an attempt to justify the £250 to Mr Walker's Charity rung out of the publisher, Mr. Danczuk told the Daily Mail this week:
'... that Mr Walker was acknowledged in its foreword because of the part he played in helping uncover Smith's wrongdoing.'
But Mr Danczuk said:
'I am sorry for Mr Walker who is clearly confused about his involvement with authoring the book, which evidently has contributed an awful lot to raising the issue of child abuse and continues to help victims deal with their traumatic past.'Some doubts have now been thrown upon this Danczuk's story after Northern Voices' has contacted John Walker, who is still out in Gambia until March working for the Charity. It now seems that Mr. Walker had much more contact with Danczuk and Baker in to the run-up to the publication of their book.
Yesterday, John Walker confirmed 'I certainly met Danczuk 4 times'.
Mr. Walker then went on to detail the four occassions on which they met in the run-up to the publication of Danczuk's book:
1 - at my request, in the Strangers' Bar of the House of Commons, to discuss my idea of a book. He consumed rather a lot to drink over a couple of hours - so I can understand if this meeting slipped his memory. This would be Nov 2012.
2 - at his request, in his tax/payer funded Pimlico flat, in the week between Xmas and New Year, to discuss my draft outline for the book.
3 - at his request. 10 days later in Portcullis house, Westminster, to discus the book with the literary agent he found.4 - at his request, and my cost, a meeting in his Rochdale office to discuss how "Matthew Baker" could line up local contacts to be interviewed for the book. (Brian, you will remember this, as we met for a meal and drink afterwards.) Basically, Danczuk and Baker had decided to go ahead without me, and effectively told me so. Thus wasting a day of my time and travel costs to Rochdale (unlike Danczuk, whose fares are met by the taxpayer, I footed my own bill).
This account would seem to be enough to discredit the Danczuk story in itself as Mr. Walker and Rochdale's Alternative Paper is regarded with great respect in, but there is also evidence of indirect contact through the former Westminster blogger, Paul Waugh. Two of the young inmates from Cambridge House, Barry Fitton and Edward Sharrock, both complainants who Danczuk referred to by in his speech in the House of Commons when he first took up this cause in November 2012, were provided for him through the good offices of Mr Walker and Northern Voices.