Saturday, 28 April 2018

Les May justifies attack on Simon Danczuk


YOUR response to my Northern Voices piece ‘Same Old Danczuk’ highlights the stark difference in the way that you approach investigative journalism and the way that Danczuk approaches it.   In your piece you specify the questions which need to be asked and who they should be asked of; that is not Danczuk’s way of doing things.   He resorts to a ‘scattergun’ approach in which he fires off a lot of vague accusations in the hope that some of them will stick.

His book ‘Smile for the Camera’ devotes chapter 10 (pages 237 to 256) to Smith’s relationship with the Liberals. It is full of second hand stories taken from people who were willing to talk to him.   At the end Danczuk concludes ‘Cyril abused people both as a Labour councillor and as a Liberal MP and no political party was ever able to stop him’.  There is nothing in the previous twenty pages, or indeed the rest of the book, to justify the second half of this sentence.

Danczuk has used this tactic of vague, but damaging, accusations before.  After Leon Brittan died in January 2015, Danczuk said ‘Sir Leon is someone who should have faced questions and been compelled to give evidence to the inquiry over his role as home secretary in the 1980s when a dossier containing allegations of establishment child abuse was handed to him.  We had a similar carefully placed story about a ‘dossier’ in the Rochdale Observer in 2014.  The so called dossier was in fact some notes made of a telephone conversation by someone in the office of Lib-Dem MP Liz Lynne.

If Danczuk had drawn attention to the fact that David Steel knew in 1979 exactly what the allegations against Smith were and was aware of the evidence for them being true, then I would have felt this was entirely justified, as he was in pointing out that Steel nominated Smith for a knighthood (p243).  What I objected to, and still do, is that he implied that Cyril’s behaviour at Cambridge House had continued and that the local and national Liberals were aware of this and had protected him.  That is just too vague to be taken seriously as in the absence of specifics it can never be refuted.

Danczuk’s desire for other people to be asked questions by the IICSA is not matched by his willingness to answer questions himself.  He avoided answering questions about his book from the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2014 by turning the spotlight on Leon Brittan and he has avoided being asked questions by the IICSA.

No comments: