Cyril Smith – an apology is the very least we owe the victims

The Chief Executive of Rochdale Council has apologised for letting down the victims of Cyril Smith. It is time that the Liberal Democrats, as successor party to the Liberal Party made an apology to the victims too – not for any direct responsibility but the fact that he was able to use our party as a front for the “big Cyril”, “national treasure” image which helped him cover up earlier crimes. Cyril Smith is not a figure from ancient Liberal Party history. He was a Liberal Democrat MP for his last three years in parliament, he died in 2010 and his accusers were being criticised on this site as late as 2015.

Victims deserve the following actions from the party:

  1. An apology from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats that the party was unknowingly used as a front for Smith’s respectability.
  2. An inquiry into any remaining evidence about him within the party.
  3. A direction to the pastoral care officer to support any party activists who wish to talk about their own experiences with Smith.
  4. A direction that all references to Smith be removed from the Rochdale Lib Dems website (which has an extraordinary archive with cheery references to his 80th birthday and other events).

Editor’s Note:

The party’s position on this was made clear in a statement issued some time ago. 

Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined. His actions were not known or condoned by the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats.

We will continue to cooperate fully with the official inquiry and would encourage anyone with information to pass it on to the inquiry.

Comments are closed on this post because these issues are subject to an ongoing enquiry. Anyone who wants to give evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should contact them here.

If any party member wishes to contact Jeanne Tarrant, the party’s Pastoral Care Officer, in connection with this, they  can email her on [email protected].

Update 23 October: Positive references to Smith have now been removed from the Rochdale Lib Dems’ website.

* Ruth Bright has been a councillor in Southwark and Parliamentary Candidate for Hampshire East

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