Daily Mail serialises ‘The Double Life of Cyril Smith’

daily mail cyril smithToday’s Daily Mail begins the serialisation of a new book, Smile for the Camera: the Double Life of Cyril Smith, co-authored by Rochdale’s Labour MP, Simon Danczuk, who went public with allegations of sexual abuse by his Liberal predecessor in 2012:

The book, co-written by Matthew Baker, reveals that as far back as the 1950s, Rochdale police had their suspicions about the politician. Smith, MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992, was governor of almost 30 schools. In the 1960s, he helped to open Cambridge House children’s home, where he abused boys, often subjecting them to spurious medical examinations. But when police launched an investigation, the chief constable of Lancashire personally intervened to stop it.

In the 1970s Smith was arrested on a number of occasions in public toilets in London’s St James’s Park, a regular haunt for young male prostitutes after dark, but always walked free. The cover-ups continued in the 1980s when Smith’s car was pulled over on the motorway near Northampton and traffic officers discovered child porn in the boot. ‘The police were naturally disgusted and wanted to press charges,’ says the book. ‘But then a phone call was made from London and he was released without charge.’ When Rochdale police first started investigating him in 1972 they were threatened by the council’s Liberal leader and, according to Mr Danczuk’s book, rumours of his activities were well known in Westminster for many years.

Here’s Mr Danczuk’s account:

One of the most shocking elements of his story is how the truth was known to the police and in Westminster, yet concealed from the wider public, allowing a paedophile to hide in Parliament. When I first arrived in Rochdale as its prospective Labour candidate in 2007, I, too, was taken in by him. It was 15 years since he’d stood down as MP but he continued to cast a spell over the town. …

As soon as the first victim approached me, there was no turning back. Every email, every phone call, every meeting uncovered more about his double life. And the more I found out, the more I came to realise that this wasn’t just about abuse, it was about power — and a cover-up that reached from Rochdale all the way to the very top of the Establishment. Smith posed as a tireless worker for children — at one point he was governor of 29 local schools and set up a youth charity, Rochdale Childer — using it all as a cover to prowl from classroom to classroom and youth club to youth club. His happiest hunting grounds were Cambridge House, a hostel for ‘working boys’ he helped set up with other politicians, and Knowl View, a residential school for children with learning difficulties, where he was a governor and had his own set of keys, coming and going at will.

To sit before the men he abused there and listen to them recount their ordeals is an experience no one can prepare for. There is anger, confusion and a deep sense of shame as they recall violence, spanking and groping that will never be erased from their memories.

You can read more in the Daily Mail here.

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  • Driberg made no secret of his homosexuality, which he practised throughout his life despite it being a criminal offence in Britain until 1967; his ability to avoid any consequences for his risky and often brazen behaviour baffled his friends and colleagues. Always in search of bizarre experiences, Driberg befriended at various times the occultist Aleister Crowley and the Kray twins, along with honoured and respected figures in the worlds of literature and politics. He combined this lifestyle with an unvarying devotion to Anglo-Catholicism. After his death, allegations were published about his role over many years as an MI5 informant, a KGB agent, or both. The extent and nature of Driberg’s involvement with these agencies remains uncertain. He was charged with indecent assault after two men shared his bed in the 1940s and used his position as a journalist several times to get off later charges when caught soliciting in public toilets by the police.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '14 - 1:04pm

    I think this needs strong action. I don’t know much, but neither do the voters and they need to know the Lib Dems treat this very seriously. Nobody should be afraid to “rock the boat” during election campaigns when dealing with issues of sexual abuse, harassment or any indecency.

  • Not for one minute would I condone sex offences against young children but it seems stalinism is still alive and well in one corner of Britain if not in the former Soviet Union. In stalinist show trials the charge of being a sexual pervert was routinely added to the charge sheet and it appears those of stalinist leanings are still quick to resort to such tactics.
    In real trials there must be proof beyond resonable doubt which may explain why Smith was never prosecuted. It may come as no surprise that he may have been a homosexual but they all led double lives in the days when the Daily Mirror carried headlines on’ How to spot a Homo.’

  • Entirely politically motivated. Note any lack of reference to the fact that Cyril Smith was in the Labour Party in the 1960s . Also note the conflation of homosexuality and paedophilia evidenced by statements such as “In the 1970s Smith was arrested on a number of occasions in public toilets in London’s St James’s Park, a regular haunt for young male prostitutes after dark, but always walked free”

  • @ Manfarang
    What has homosexuality got to do with the sexual abuse of children? Are you saying that paedophilia and homosexuality are one and the same thing?. Or that homosexuality is some kind of ‘gateway drug’, to paedophilia? You really need to clarify what point you are trying to make?
    As Eddie Sammon correctly suggests, this needs strong action, and I think part of that action ought to be getting some of the elder ‘statesmen’ and woman, of the party to sit down and answer some pertinent questions, as to why this man appeared to be both ‘connected’, and protected from investigation and subsequent prosecution?

  • @John Dunn. I think ColinW is pointing out that the Daily Mail article seems to link Smith’s possible homosexuality to child abuse. Shouldn’t that be ‘Parties’ – It is claimed Smith abused whilst a Labour Alderman.

  • I knew that Smith was a paedophile as long ago as 1979, because I read the article by Francis Wheen in “Private Eye”. Over the ensuing years, I was told things about Smith that were far more horrific than anything that appeared in the Wheen article. We know for a fact that the then leadership was aware of those allegations (which Smith never denied), and I somehow doubt that they were unaware of the later (and worse) things.

    Let’s chuck the denial, shall we? Does it matter what the motives of the media are here? Smith was very clearly a predatory paedophile of the first order, the leadership was aware of this, and he had friends in high places who succeeded in shielding him from justice for a period of at least 50 years. Why did the party entertain this man?

    Smith was no kind of Liberal. He was an advocate of capital and corporal punishment, as well as being a friend of the asbestos industry.

  • Julian Dean 13th Apr '14 - 8:25am

    Shocking that this is being turned into party politics by posters in this thread.

    If if was a ‘good news’ story he’d be the complete liberal and his past affiliations with Labour would be swept under the carpet.

    We’re talking about Jimmy Saville levels of victims coming forward with cover ups at all levels, it needs a full enquiry and any guilty of sweeping his supposed vile actions should be put on trial and outed.

    The lib dems should be pushing for this instead of decrying about ‘when he was part of the labour party’, just remember, we’re talking about victims as young as 8 here that should have been protected by the state, politics and losing political face is secondary and anyone that thinks differently really should stare deep into a mirror.

  • Julian
    Mr Evans questioned the way prosecutors handled high-profile sex offence cases that dated back many years – also criticising the use of “bundling” – where police build a case against an accused using a number of weaker allegations.

  • I think ColinW is pointing out that the Daily Mail article seems to link Smith’s possible homosexuality to child abuse. Shouldn’t that be ‘Parties’ – It is claimed Smith abused whilst a Labour Alderman.

    Because what is important here is blaming Labour.

    Evidence of an establishment and political cover up of a predatory abuser to such an extent that politicians at the highest levels were seemingly unaware of his abuse (despite ample reports in Private Eye and local press over several decades) is not as great a concern.

  • g: Parties – ergo more than one political party.

  • It is suggested that a Labour MP helped Smith avoid prosecution. Whilst Smith was still a local Labour councillor, Lancashire Constabulary carried out an investigation into Smith’s strange behaviour, it seems that they were ready to prosecute. Smith’s offending would have ended there; however Labour MP Jack McCann (Smith’s predecessor as MP for Rochdale) spoke to the DPP on Smith’s behalf and the case was dropped. So the Labour Party were certainly aware of the allegations at the time, not from RAP or Private Eye, but from the police. Worse than ignore them they actively sought to protect Smith from prosecution. The Labour Party had a choice, they could have heeded the allegations, they could have let the justice system taken its course; instead they helped cover things up. Tying to say Labour doesn’t have questions to answer seems disrespectful to the victims.

  • of course Labour has questions to answer here. Though i would caution against drawing conclusions in any of this. Given the police and CPS inability to garner concrete evidence in cases linked to people still alive, how much real confidence can we have in their investigations of the deceased? I think there needs to be some way of investigating these allegations (and others relating to deceased indviduals) in a Crown Court setting. Both alleged victims and Smith’s family are hugely impacted by all of this and it seems only fair to me that we should start to develop a way of investigating things more fairly. It seems to me that if someone is dead you can just throw whatever mud you want without any real scrutiny

  • A Social Liberal 28th Apr '14 - 6:56am

    Sesenco said

    “I knew that Smith was a paedophile as long ago as 1979”.

    If you knew, why did you do nothing?

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