'Cyril Smith abuse probe allowed other Rochdale allegations to come to light'
Home âº News âº UKMI5 âaware of claims prosecutors lied about role in Cyril Smith decisionâ
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has begun evidence hearings.
MI5 were made aware of allegations that prosecutors lied about their role in deciding not to prosecute late politician Cyril Smith, an inquiry has heard.
A police investigation into the Liberal MPâs alleged sexual abuse of young boys ended in 1970 when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) concluded it was unlikely to lead to a prosecution.
Sir N orman Skelhornâs decision in 1970 came despite a senior detective warning the âsordidâ accusations against Smith âstood upâ, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard.
The national inquiry has begun evidence hearings examining how Smith was able to carry out his alleged offences at Cambridge House hostel and the Knowl View residential school in Rochdale.
Lead counsel Brian Altman QC said that the security services were informed that the Rochdale Alternative Press (RAP), which published an investigation into Smith in 1979, had been misled by Sir Normanâs office.
He said of material provided to the inquiry by MI5: ââTheâ âdocumentsâ âshowâ âthatâ âthe Securityâ âServiceâsâ âlegalâ âadviserâ âwasâ âinformedâ âofâ âtheâ âfalseâ ârepresentationsâ âtoâ âthe pressâ âfromâ âtheâ âDPPâsâ âoffice.â
ââBasedâ âuponâ âtheirâ âreviewâ âofâ âtheâ âinformationâ âtheyâ âhold,â âthe Securityâ âServiceâ âconsidersâ âtheyâ âtookâ âactiveâ âstepsâ âtoâ âensureâ âthatâ âthoseâ âinvolvedâ âin investigatingâ âallegationsâ âofâ âchildâ âsexualâ âabuseâ âagainstâ âSmithâ âwereâ âmadeâ âawareâ âofâ âall informationâ âofâ ârelevanceâ âtoâ âtheirâ âinquiries.â â
âHowever,â âgivenâ âtheirâ âfunctionâ âwasâ âto defendâ âtheâ ârealm,â âatâ âthatâ âtime,â âandâ âinvestigationâ âwasâ âoutsideâ âtheirâ âremit,â âtheyâ âsimply filedâ âtheâ âinformationâ ârelatedâ âtoâ âtheâ âfalseâ ârepresentationsâ âthatâ âhadâ âbeenâ âmadeâ âtoâ âthe press.â
According to the records, the DPP told the publication it had never received police reports of abuse by Smith.
Th e 29-stone politician was the subject of sex abuse accusations and investigations over decades during his career in Rochdale, but was never prosecuted and received a knighthood before his death in 2010.
No national newspapers reported on Smithâs alleged behaviour despite the 1970 police investigation, which focused on allegations from Cambridge House, and the 1979 RAP report, Mr Altman said.
âThisâ âisâ âdespiteâ âtheâ âfactâ âthatâ âCyrilâ âSmithâ âdidâ ânot takeâ âanyâ âformâ âofâ âactionâ âagainstâ âRAP,â he added.
An investigation into the MP in 1970, the year he first ran for national office, concluded he was hiding behind a âveneer of respectabilityâ to target eight young boys at Cambridge House during the 1960s.
Lancashire Policeâs detective superintendent Leach was said by Mr Altman to be âunsparingâ in his assessment of Smith in a report to the forceâs chief constable.
The report said: âIt seems impossible to excuse his conduct over a considerable period of time whilst sheltering behind a veneer of respectability.
âHe has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episode with young boys towards whom he had a special responsibility.â
The officer said the allegations, which included that he spanked some boys on the bare bottoms and medically examined others, âstood upâ, the hearing was told.
In 1988, when Smith was made a knight, then prime minister Margaret Thatcher had probably been informed of his chequered past, the inquiry heard.
A draft letter from Lord Shackleton on behalf of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee to the PM directly referred to the police investigation and coverage in RAP and Private Eye.
ââOneâ âmayâ âregretâ âthisâ âkindâ âofâ âpressâ âreporting,â he said, but the scandal could be given new life if the honour wa s given.
While it is not clear whether the prime minister received this letter, another letter enclosing the coverage is believed to have been sent to her private secretary in May 1988.
Mr Altman told the inquiry: âIâ âmentionâ âthisâ âknighthoodâ âhereâ âforâ âtwoâ âreasons.â âFirst,â âbecauseâ âitâ âdemonstratesâ âthat theâ âLancashireâ âinvestigationâ âandâ âtheâ âRAPâ âarticleâ âhadâ âbeenâ âconsideredâ âatâ âtheâ âvery highestâ âlevelâ âofâ âpoliticsâ âandâ âseeminglyâ âdidâ ânotâ âpromptâ âmoreâ âthanâ âconsiderationâ âofâ âthe DPPâsâ âdecisionâ ânotâ âtoâ âprosecute.
âSecond,â âbecauseâ âitâ âisâ âimportantâ âtoâ âbearâ âinâ âmindâ âtheâ âextentâ âtoâ âwhichâ âCyrilâ âSmith continuedâ âtoâ âinvolveâ âhimselfâ âinâ â seriousâ âissuesâ ârelatedâ âtoâ âtheâ âwelfareâ âofâ âchildren.â
ââA knighthoodâ âwouldâ âonlyâ âhaveâ âreinforcedâ âSmithâsâ âveneerâ âofâ ârespectabilityâ âandâ âpower. Byâ âwayâ âofâ âexample,â ârecordsâ âfromâ âaâ âcaseâ âinâ â1991â âshowâ âthatâ âheâ âplayedâ âaâ âpivotalâ ârole theâ âremovalâ âofâ âaâ âchildâ âfromâ âhisâ âfamilyâ âhome.â âTheâ âchildâ âinâ âquestionâ âhadâ âbehaved sexuallyâ âtowardsâ âhisâ âeight-year-âoldâ âsister.â â
âRochdaleâ âsocialâ âservicesâ âwereâ âattempting toâ âmanageâ âthisâ âsituationâ âbutâ âitâ âisâ âquiteâ âclearâ âthatâ âitâ âwasâ âtheâ âinvolvementâ âofâ âSmithâ âinâ âhis capacityâ âasâ âtheâ âlocalâ âMPâ â thatâ âwasâ âdecisive.â
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