THE Liberal Democrats claim they had no idea Sir Cyril Smith, the Labour mayor of Rochdale (his mother wash his mayoress) who became the town’s Liberal MP and that Party’s chief whip, was a pervert. In response to current Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk’s book on Smith, Smile for the Camera: the Double Life of Cyril Smith, a LibDem spokesman says:
“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 to or condoned by anyone in the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats.”
None of them?
DID former Labour councillor and Liberal MP for Rochdale Cyril Smith abuse underage males? Well, he’s dead. We can’t ask him. The police did ask but have – ahem – lost the files. Manchester police says there is “overwhelming evidence” Smith is guilty of sexually abusing boys in care homes. So. Why didn’t they charge him? Why did Smith, secretary of the Rochdale Hostel for Boys Association, get away with it?
Why didn’t the Crown Prosecution Service prosecute. In 1970, the DPP said “the characters of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect”.
SIR Cyril Smith. Was he a paedophile? Lancashire police have made a statement on the former MP for Rochdale, now deceased:
We would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of sexual abuse by Mr Smith, or who has any information about possible abuse committed by him, to come forward and report those concerns to Lancashire Constabulary by calling 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and quoting log number LC-20121114-0364. We take matters such as this extremely seriously and anyone who does come forward should do so with confidence that they will be treated appropriately and with sensitivity.
While we believe there was an investigation into allegations against Mr Smith in the late 1960s, no records are now held and it cannot be ascertained whether a file was passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
These historic allegations date back more than 40 years and to a time when Rochdale was within the Lancashire Constabulary area. We have not received any new allegations at this stage.
WE told you Sir Cyril Smith was next. The former Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale and former Labour Party councillor (oh, dread place), who died in 2010, was long rumoured to have been a paedophile. Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose posterior now occupies the Rochdale constituency, told the House of Commons: “Young boys were humiliated, terrified and reduced to quivering wrecks by a 29st bully imposing himself on them.”
Rochdale councillor Dale Mulgrew, Sir Cyril’s godson, tells one and all:
“Apart from the plaque that we intend to unveil outside the town hall next month, which really is no more than a small civic commemoration, the town won’t have a totemic, significant memorial in lasting tribute to Cyril’s work. After all, Gracie Fields has a theatre. Clearly, a lot of Cyril’s work over his time was around education, and clearly the new leisure centre will have a schools dimension because it will be used during the day by our local education establishments. This is about a lasting memorial, irrespective of the facility, and Cyril would have promoted the community and social aspects of this building.”
In 1976, Mr Cyril Smith was 47. Then, as the Liberal MP for Rochdale, he filled a bed at Birch Hall Hospital. His mother, Mrs Eva Smith, said he had become unwell in the early hours.
He recovered and lived to 82. Yep a big man lived past three score years and ten. And he was well liked. His size helped.
This is not to say Smith lived a blameless life. David Steel’s Press Office was quoted as saying on 22nd April 1979: ” …all he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms”.
We found this but news of the allegation is hard to come by. It exists as an alleged allegation, but nonetheless interesting:
The original complaint concerned a resident of Cambridge Boys Hostel, Castlemere Street, Rochdale (it closed in 1965) . Eventually 7 people made complaints.
“… he took me into the quiet Room. he told me to take my trousers down and bend over his knee…” Another one …” Cyril Smith found out I had taken some money . He asked me if I would accept his punishment or be dealt with by the authorities…” Another ” He told me to take my trousers and pants down. He held my testicles and told me to cough”
Smith did not dignify the allegations by suing. And we went on to be immensely popular.
We live at a time of uniform-sized politicos. Even John Prescott is not big. He is squat. None of them are big aside from Arthur Nicholas Winston Soames. And you know who is because he has a big profile – literally.
WHY are we wasting money on this when we could be spending it on that?’ is a favourite argument of the partisan. It’s usually spurious. But this collection of front pages does make you wonder how the Press came to be the arch-villains of the unholy trinity of politicians, police, Press. And that in turn prompts further questions about the extent and expense of the phone-hacking inquiry.
In the top row we have two peers (one Labour, one Conservative) under suspicion for rape, and the disappearance of 114 files from a 1983 dossier alleging that a number of public figures were involved in child sex abuse. At the bottom we have more allegations against Rolf Harris, who was jailed for sexual assault on Friday.
COMPARE and contrast the words of Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service. When Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell was cleared of child sex offences, his aunt, Pat Gallier, opined:
“The police seem to be arresting celebrities and accusing them of child sex offences without seeming to check if there’s enough evidence. Michael’s been caught up in this witch-hunt.”
Afzal was aghast:
“I absolutely detest this word ‘witch-hunt’. It is not a witch-hunt… The vast majority of child sex abusers are not your public figures… and they cannot be allowed to get away with it because of some discourse about ‘This is some kind of campaign’ that is following what happened with (Jimmy) Savile or Cyril Smith or whoever it may be…”
Is he a celeb hunter?
“I don’t even know what a ‘celeb hunter’ is. Nobody should be above the law in this country.”
So what did he man when he said back in March 2013:
“This is a growing industry. More arrests are scheduled over the next few weeks. Some are very high profile figures. They are people whose names have come forward because of the high profile of child abuse in recent months. There are people you will be interested in.”
Bring your autograph book…
IT’S been a while since the last
There have been nine arrests so far. Enough for a game of Celebrity Squares, the 1970s noughts and crosses gameshow with a twist. There should be further arrests – the Star promised more on January 13, stating: “Savile cops will arrest seven more stars” – but many VIPS (as they were known in their pomp) are dead. Also, if the Star can make celebrities of X Factor also-rans and minor soap opera actors, the Celebrity Police Force might not think it worth the effort to nick a Crossroads extra. We could dig up some real stars gone by, but then we’d be necrophiliacs, like Jimmy Savile.
GIVEN the need to stuff festive stockings or find something to get through the hideous day, I cannot recommend highly enough Andy Kershaw’s bio No Off Switch. To buy click here.
Ch 32, A Tour of the Cages, adds context to the photo – a Christmas lunch in 1985, held in September. He writes:
“My Radio 1 colleagues could be categorised into three species: there were those who, by the measures of most people, would be considered unfit to be released into the community, never mind set loose on national radio; others had absolutely no personality whatsoever, and even less interest in music, rendering their presence in the broadcasting game, and on a music radio station at that, unfathomable; and just a handful were quite normal, engaging individuals. How the latter bunch ever got over the threshold is, in the light of evident recruitment priorities, perhaps the biggest mystery.”
TO Rochdale, scene of sexual depravity, paedophilia and Cyril Smith. The Times reports that Tariq’s Pizza Plus, in Milnrow, near Rochdale, Great Manchester, has been closed. There have been allegations made about a man who worked at the premises.
Earlier in the year nine men were jailed for numerous child-sex crimes in and around Rochdale. In November, nine more men appeared in court accused of sex offences allegedly committed against a Rochdale girl between 2008 and 2009.
GOODBYE Cyril Smith. It’s not over yet, of course. Suspected of having been a nonce in life, the former Labour councillor and Liberal MP for Rochdale, not doing too badly in death. Yet. Unlike Jimmy Savile, Smith is still known as Sir Cyril, the Manchester Evening News using the title to tell readers that the plaque “honouring Sir Cyril Smith” has been removed from Rochdale Town Hall.
Council leader Colin Lambert said he and chief executive Jim Taylor thought it for the best. Says Lambert:
“We make no judgement on the situation with Cyril Smith, but the strength of public feeling is such that we have been alerted to a potential threat to the town hall.”
TERRY-Thomas had arrived. It wasn’t exactly overnight but most people thought so. It was 1946 and he was compèring a revue called Piccadilly Hayride at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The revue, its star Sid Fields and the gap-toothed compère were a tremendous success – critically and with the paying public. Within three or four weeks of the run the newspapers were already reporting that Terry Thomas (the hypen was to arrive the following year) was to appear in that year’s Royal Variety Performance.
THE FAB FOUR had barely left Ed Sullivan’s stage before their songs were being covered like mad across the entire planet. You’d be hard pressed to find a single artist from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies who didn’t have at least one cover in their repertoire. Then royalty rates went up, and it naturally became harder to include a Lennon/McCartney track on an album…. and finally, in July 1978, The Bee Gees famously ruined the idea altogether.
Herein are fifteen from the Golden Age of Beatles Covers – when everyone from Deep Purple to Peter Sellers had a Beatles song to make their own. Enjoy.
MADLEI McCAnn: Anorak’s look at the missing child in the news. Today the Sun summons the name of convicted child abusers and killers Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan.
The headline states and asks:
MADDIE SUSPECTS 2007 SPAIN TRIP
McCann cops probe 2 Brit paedo killers
RIGHT TIME…RIGHT FACE?
We can deal with each point in turn.
MICHAEL Le Vell had to prove his innocence. The Daily Mirror reserved a special place on its front page for the man who works as an actor on Coronation Street. The Mirror used words like “truth” and guilty” to report on Le Vell as he was tried for child sex crimes.
Le Vell’s aunt Pat Gallier, 67, told media:
‘The police seem to be arresting celebrities and accusing them of child-sex offences without seeming to check if there’s enough evidence. Michael’s been caught up in this witch-hunt. This has changed him – people will never look at him the same again.”
She’s right. As Brendan says:
I’ve been waiting for weeks to say what complete bullshit this case seemed to be. It had flashes of false memory syndrome, therapeutic fantasy, and of course post-Savile hysteria about abusive celebs. Thank God for juries, an oasis of reason in a mad world.
A CPS spokesman said:
“This case was reviewed in great detail. On the basis of the reviews the CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. Whilst the CPS needs to consider if a conviction is realistic, the jury needs to be sure that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. We of course respect the verdicts they have reached today…”
‘There has been a fundamental shift in the way that we assess the credibility of the alleged victims in these cases, as demonstrated by the Savile and recent grooming cases such as that in Rochdale, but the evidential test remains the same.”
The shift being that all adults are now mistrusted.
The Indy notes:
In June a jury at Liverpool Crown Court took just 29 minutes to clear former Coronation Street actor Andrew Watkinson who played Frank Foster of four counts of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy in the 1990s.
Now cleared, the Press react with a few puns and rhymes. Only the Daily Mail leads with the important question: why did this case ever come before a jury in the first place
The Indy rhymes Le Vell with Hell:
The Sun clumsily works in a brand endorsement
The Mirror gets poetic about “Corrie Kev”
I’ve lost two years of my life
to this hgell
but at last it’s over
says Michael Le Vell
And the Mail gets it
The Mail offers some background to the case:
As Le Vell walked free, it emerged that the CPS initially ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge him after his arrest in September 2011. But the decision of Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor in the North West, not to prosecute was over-ruled by Alison Levitt QC, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions for England. The victim’s mother made a formal complaint in February 2012 and asked for the decision to be reviewed. The girl also made further allegations and the actor was charged in February this year.
The Mail adds:
After his initial arrest in September 2011, the actor was the subject of an intense police investigation. The alleged victim was interviewed on video by specialist officers trained to deal with such cases and she told them about the abuse and rape in detail. The DPP’s Principal Legal Advisor, Alison Levitt QC (left) overruled Chief Crown Prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, (right) who had decided there was insufficient evidence to charge le Vell with any of the abuse or rape allegationsAfter the police investigation had been concluded a file of evidence was passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service North West.
Both parties were both told of this decision in late December 2011 and Le Vell was said to be ‘relieved and delighted’ at the decision. However the victim’s mother was said to be furious and after speaking with police officers she made a formal complaint against the CPS in February 2012. The girl also returned to the police in March 2012 told them she had forgotten to mention other rapes she had suffered at the hands of the actor.
The Jimmy Savile sex scandal erupted in October 2012 causing a wholesale re-evaluation of sex cases, particularly those offences against children.
The CPS tells us:
“She [Levitt] concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that the earlier decision not to prosecute should be overturned. In addition the victim made further allegations to the police in March 2012 which were investigated by the police. The Principal Legal Advisor also reviewed this additional evidence and in February 2013 authorised that the defendant be charged with 19 offences in total. All victims now have the right, if they are concerned about a decision not to charge, to ask for the case to be looked at again. This process enabled the CPS to re-review this case, to consider the evidence afresh including some further allegations by the victim, and to bring charges.”
A “legal source” tells the Telegraph:
“There was not a shred of evidence to support the girl’s claims. There was a basic lack of evidence. I have never known a case such as this to go to court with no evidence he had any interest in child pornography or other telling indicators.
There was not even the remotest suggestion from anyone, other than the alleged victim, that he had even looked oddly at a child – let alone had a sexual interest in children. Any professional jury would have cleared him but in a court trial you can sometimes be swayed by emotion and not fact.”
The Times reported this nugget of courtroom drama:
She said her daughter spoke about the alleged abuse after attending a self-help conference and that her daughter was “very calm” and told her that she remembered the alleged attacks “all the time”…
The witness said: “In the car she said, ’It’s happened a lot more than I’m making out Mummy. It’s a lot worse.’
“She said, Mummy, you don’t want to know.”’
…the burden of proof required to bring a prosecution has seemingly been lightened to a degree that simply does not serve justice. This is especially true when the abuse is not recent: in the Le Vell case, a rape at the age of six is being alleged in court by someone who is 17; in Savile’s case, not to mention the rash of cases that followed, the time between alleged abuse and serious police action was even longer.
So although I don’t doubt that some of the ‘victims’ in these cases are telling the truth, I simply do not believe they all are.
Meanwhile, the mantra that ‘we must listen to what children say’ has subtly changed to ‘we must believe what children say’. The police and the CPS, knowing this, bring flimsy cases – like Le Vell’s – that should never have seen the light of day.
So another career bites the dust, and another man – heart, soul and reputation – is ruined.
What about the alleged victim, who wasn’t?
Duncan Barkes asks: “Should the law change to grant anonymity to those charged with sex offences?”
Jerry Wright notes:
“It must be awful to be accused of something you haven’t done, facing a nightmare of twelve months knowing your innocent, but trying to find any proof that you were not at the scene of an alleged crime. Mr Le Vell, 48, who plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street had denied 12 charges in total, telling the jury he was “fighting for his life” During the trial Mr Le Vell admitted he was an alcoholic who had a series of one-night stands throughout his 25-year marriage. What makes my blood boil is, his name, his career, his personal details were all made public, and the accuser was kept secret, as the girl is still a teenager, and her parents too, who no doubt wanted just to cash in on Mr le Vell’s celebrity status!”
The accuser is afforded lifetime anonymity.
The last words are Le Vell’s, who told the court:
“I’m like a lost soul and I still want to get to the bottom of why this has happened to me and why I’m being accused of this, because I know none of this happened. I have been walking around for the last two years just not knowing.”
Such are the facts…
THE News Year’s Honours list in full. Yesterday, we could not tell you that Steve Jobs’s pal Jonathan Ive – the designer of the iPad, iPod and iMac – has been knighted in the New Year’s Honours List. The news carried an embargo. We had to wait until today. Of course, this arcane idiocy is not helped by the fact that newspaper publish yesterday and you can see the front pages on the internet – ones carrying photos of Helen Bonham Carter CBE, Gerald Ronson CBE and Chris Preddie CBE. It’s just further proof that news has moved faster than they who seek to control it. You might have read that Jonathan Ive, the British designer whom Jobs described as his “spiritual partner”, had been made a KBE on your smart phone or tablet. If you need proof of the value of Ive’s work, you need not look far.
Sir Jonathan Ive, 44, leads the headlines. Others have been honoured for their services to the country:
Paul Ruddock – knighted for services to… Well, he gav the Tory Party £500,000 since 2003. He becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to the arts – Sir Paul is a City trader who became chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
ROBINHO, one of the myriad Brazilian attacking footballers whose names being in a “R”, has been the object of transfer speculation between Real Madrid (ten times winners of the European Cup) and Chelsea (identity under offer).
And the Sun headline: “Madrid have killed the dream.”
That’s right. Robinho’s dream was to play for Chelsea. Really.
John William Baker, CBE. Chair, Senior Salaries Review Body and Public Services Remuneration Committee. For public service. (Woking, Surrey)
Professor Christopher Alan Bayly. Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, University of Cambridge. For services to History. (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire)
Ian Terence Botham, OBE. For services to Charity and to Cricket. (Richmond, North Yorkshire)
‘AFTER the broadsheets have done their reporting, the tabloids wade into the New Orleans waters and look for the human interest angle.
|‘Dear Readers, today I went to the game’|
And the human the Sun is interested in is Emily Smith, the papers girl on the scene with a pad and maybe even a pencil.
Theres even a lead shot of Emily (well stick with first names throughout) on the Suns front page. In it shes seen placing her hand atop that of 81-year-old diabetic Rosella McCoy, a picture newsworthy enough to be repeated in a larger format inside the paper.
Black Rosella looks deeply pained. Blonde Emily looks compassionate. This tragic widow begged me to save her from disaster, writers Emily, and half an hour later she lay on the verge of death.
Its just terrible. But spare your tears. Its OK. Emilys still with us. And shes professional enough to keep up the good work. Our Emily vowed to help, but when she returned (from where we are not told) Rosella had collapsed and was driven away sprawled across the bonnet of an army truck.
It must have been a trying ordeal? But Emily is just fine. Shaken? Yes. But deeply stirred. PRAY FOR HER, says the Suns front-page headline. And we will. Good luck, Emily. Godspeed.
But what of the other Britons out there on the frontline? News is that the Expresss Cyril Dixon is hard at it.
Unlike the Suns Emily, Cyrils stayed at home, where the real relief effort is being orchestrated from.
He tells us that 150 Britons are still missing in New Orleans, one of whom is of Catherine Nicholls, who lived in Biloxi, Mississippi. He speaks to her sister who says, The longer it goes on the worse it gets. She continues: How long do you wait before we say, Theyre not coming back, they cant be alive?
Cyril doesnt seem able or willing to give an answer. And moves onto Guy Rounce, brother to Penny, who has not been heard from since just before the storm. We are on tenterhooks, waiting for her to get in touch, says Guy.
And so it goes on. The names keep coming, and Cyril keeps writing them down. But the Mails Robin Yapp knows the real story when he sees it coming his way. Its aged 20. Its white. Its got curly blondish hair. Its dressed in jeans, a lacey vest top. And comes from south Wales. Its Jane Wheeldon.
Janes just arrived back from New Orleans, and the Mail was at Gatwick to probe her for vital information.
We were prime targets, says Jane. No, not for the winds. For the looters and nefarious crims who turned the Superdome where Jane had been sheltering into hell.
Guys would come up and stroke your back and tummy and your bum to find any money you had on you, says Jane. Everyone was staring and it as so intimidating.
Terrible winds. Thousands feared dead. Many lives ruined. And now the news that one of our own has had her back touched up. Its just too awful, and we wonder who much worse it can get.
And just as soon as Emily, Cyril and Robin have found someone suffering, well let you know…’