PoliticsHome: ‘New Cyril Smith abuse claims’

Paul Waugh at PoliticsHome has published an in-depth article publicising allegations of child abuse against former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith:

Sir Cyril Smith became the latest public figure to be accused of abuse today after residents at a boys’ hostel described how he made youngsters strip, fondled them and smacked their bare bottoms for punishment.

Two former residents of Cambridge House hostel in Rochdale have gone on the record for the first time to tell PoliticsHome.com how former Liberal MP Smith treated them as teenagers in the 1960s.

Barry Fitton, who was 15 at the time, said that the former Rochdale MP punished him by bending him over his knee and hitting his backside with his bare hand. Afterwards, Smith told him to lie on a bed and stroked his buttocks. On another occasion, Smith subjected the teenager to a ‘medical’ that involved him feeling his thighs and testicles. Another former resident, Eddie Shorrock, who was 17 at the time, described how Smith, who founded the hostel and had keys to its premises, also gave him a ‘medical’ whenever he took time off work. He was made to strip and display his genitals.

Rumours about Smith’s conduct circulated for years but until now, all of his accusers have remained anonymous. Current Rochdale MP Simon Danzcuk is set to highlight PoliticsHome’s new evidence during a debate on child protection in the House of Commons today, with calls for a fresh inquiry into the claims. Several of the boys at the hostel later made formal complaints to the police but no action was taken. Police files intended for the Crown Prosecution Service seemingly went missing in the 1970s. Smith, who was in his mid thirties at the time of the alleged incidents, died in 2010.

You can read the article in full here.

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15 Comments

  • Tracy Connell 13th Nov '12 - 11:59am

    Must admit I was too young to have heard the allegations in the 70s.

    Briefly met Cyril Smith around 1990 when he gave a speech here in the North East . Didn’t really get to speak to him though. Never had a clue about these allegations until now.

  • Dave Hennigan 13th Nov '12 - 2:44pm

    I’m absolutely disgusted that Sir Cyril Smith has been dragged into the child abuse scandal. I knew him very well later in his life and spent hours discussing Rochdale (and politics) with him in that order. I am appalled that his memory is being tarnished in this manner. This innuendo came from smears made by the Labour Party and their supporters at the time and has been continued.

    I hope that Norman, Cyril’s brother and all the family are OK and that the people of Rochdale realise that this witch hunt will eventually clear Sir Cyril’s name. I know from experience that the people of Rochdale will acknowledge the major, major contribution he made to the town

  • Peter Benson 13th Nov '12 - 4:00pm

    I cannot comment on Cyril Smith,but there seems to be a lot of abused people in this country that need help and justice.

    Its about time this subject,on pedophiles,was openly aired.We need to discus it so children,or those who were children but are now damaged psychologically,and perhaps physically.Have the confidence to come forward and have a fair hearing.

  • None of this is new. Rochdale’s Alternative Paper (RAP) published these allegations in lurid detail in the early 70s. Cyril always strenuously denied these rumours, which were widley known about in Rochdale when Cyril was first elected to parliament in 1972. If there was any evidence, no-one pursued it.

    I note that the current Rochdale MP waited until Cyril was dead before raising this again. Perhaps he knew what Cyril’s reaction would have been had he still been around.

    I knew Cyril quite well – I first met him as a young man of 22 – and can say that I never had any reason to believe these stories. Of course it’s in Labour’s interest to raise them again now, not because anything positive can come out of it, but to try and smear current Liberal Democrats in Rochdale.

    I am totally appalled by any form of child abuse and have every sympathy with its victims. Dragging Cyril Smith’s name through the mud will not help anyone, because he isn’t here to defend himself or to make retribution if anything were ever proved.

    This is just political posturing by a Labour MP.

  • @ Peter Benson

    “Its about time this subject,on pedophiles,was openly aired”

    Only if there is not an open police investigation/prosicution in the pipeline. There is lots of desire to discuss some specific cases (think BBC) which may harm future procecutions so we should tread carefully.

    In this case it sounds like this is unlikley to be the case though.

    But it seems odd if this has been previously investigated and not taken forward to claim it is news. If alledged victims have previously not been too intimidated to come forward then what new will be brought to light that has not previously been seen? But perhaps we will see the accusers can provide new infomation or evidence.

  • Moggy
    Wasn’t Cyril Smith a member of the Labour Party, and a Labour Party councillor at the time?

    A Labour cover up?

  • By the time RAP printed the allegations, Cyril had left the Labour Party and rejoined the Liberals. RAP was always a Labour supporting paper (or at least it was vehemently anti Cyril Smith), unlike the Rochdale Observer, which tended to give its support to the Liberals. My recollection is that RAP had referred the matter to the police and that there was no resulting prosecution, because there was no reliable evidence to support the allegations.

    I always had the suspicion that this was a Labour smear campaign.

    The current Rochdale MP is probably too young to know any of this. He should do more research before rushing to condemn a man who devoted his whole adult life to serving the community, as a councillor, an employer, an MP and an indefatigable fund raiser for charity.

  • Has anyone looked at what the current Rochdale MP said about Cyril Smith in his maiden speech?

  • This is what Lorna Fitzsimons said in 1997:

    There is a joke in Rochdale—a polite one of course—that any public occasion to which I am invited with Sir Cyril Smith is a bit like “The Little and Large Show”. I know that it is meant with great affection for Sir Cyril, who is an incredible act to follow. There are many ex-Members of Parliament, but Sir Cyril has a place in the history books and an honoured place in the history of Rochdale. The reason he was successful—bar party politics in Rochdale—was that he was a man of the people. Some criticised him for staying in Rochdale, but it meant that there were not many there whom he did not help in his 20-year career. If, in my time as a Member of Parliament, I can help as many people as Sir Cyril did, I will feel that I have done the job that the people of Rochdale sent me here to do.”

  • The allegations don’t add up. These accusations would not withstand cross examination in a court of law. For a start some of the dates and ages don’t tally. I’ve heard reports that cyril was in his late 30s in the early 60s – not true! That this Fitton guy was 15 when it happened. That would make it 1961 but this place didn’t open its doors til a year later. Fitton now lives in Amsterdam. Let’s have some scrutiny!!

  • Johnny Allan 15th Nov '12 - 1:33pm

    It’s easy to make these accusations when someone is dead. I wonder who could or would have successfully defended Lord McAlpine had he been dead. Real victims of abuse must be encouraged to report it whilst the perpetrator is still alive and whilst one must have much sympathy for the victims, one must not lose sight of the fact that one is “innocent until proven guilty”, lest innocent people have their lives destroyed by a baying mob of vigilantes.

  • Philip Rolle 15th Nov '12 - 3:29pm

    Rochdale Council has had Sir Cyril Smith’s plaque removed.

    This is premature to say the least. Is it political spite, or moral panic?

  • I think the comments above suggesting that the allegations can only have been motivated by political advantage or spite suggest one possible reason why the truth took so long to come out.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-20516533

    Abusers often rely on their victims not being believed when they complain to others. This is why they prey on the weak and the vulnerable.

  • Andrew Hatton 12th Sep '13 - 7:55pm

    There has to be a secret inner wheel of justice in the UK and I doubt that Smith is the most serious offender whose offences were obscured from the public gaze, even after there were rumours.

    I expect it goes back to the likes of Lord Driberg and before.

    The days of cover up must be over now – let us have it all out – please.

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