Rochdale inquiry: Cyril Smith ‘a puppet master abuser’

Cyril SmithImage copyright
PA

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The abuse inquiry is actually hearing allegations about abuse by Rochdale’s former Liberal MP Cyril Smith

Cyril Smith treated a children’s home as his “personal fiefdom” as well as abused residents for “perverted amusement”, an inquiry heard.

Laura Hoyano, representing eight alleged victims, said Smith was a “puppet master” who escaped justice.

Prosecutors have also said “the item is actually difficult to see why” the item was decided as far back as 1970 not to charge Smith.

The independent inquiry is actually examining the late MP’s alleged abuse of young boys in Rochdale care institutions.

A dossier of information on the Liberal MP was held by the security services as well as has been disclosed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The MI5 intelligence on the allegations “raises a spectre of collusion” over his activities, Ms Hoyano said.

the item is actually examining how Smith was able to carry out his alleged offences at many institutions, including the Cambridge House children’s hostel as well as Knowl View residential school, where he was a governor.

‘Political pressure’

On Monday, counsel to the inquiry Brian Altman QC, said Sir Norman Skelhorn – then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – claimed in 1970 a police investigation of Smith was unlikely to lead to a prosecution.

This specific was followed nine years later, Mr Altman said, when MI5 was informed the Rochdale Alternative Press (RAP) was told by Sir Norman’s successor, Thomas Hetherington, there was no record of the 1970 case.

Referring to the claims, Ms Hoyano asked: “Was political pressure brought to bear upon the DPP via politicians as well as members of the Liberal Party via 1969 to 1970?

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Smith was a governor at Knowl View

“Why would likely Sir Thomas Hetherington decide he should lie to journalists, stating of which he had not submitted a prosecution file?

“Why would likely the DPP contact MI5 about This specific at all? We say This specific dossier via MI5 raises a spectre of collusion.”

In an opening statement for the CPS – which replaced the DPP – Edward Brown QC said improvements inside the law relating to evidence in child sexual abuse cases inside the intervening years could explain the decision not to prosecute Smith.

‘Corroboration of accounts’

Since 1995, juries have been able to convict offenders based solely on the accounts of victims when there are similarities inside the evidence, Mr Brown said.

although in 1970, he said a jury would likely have been specifically warned of the dangers of convictions based on uncorroborated evidence, which might have led to the accused being acquitted.

However, he did accept of which even then courts were starting to see so called “similar fact evidence” where accounts are similar, could prove the guilt of an abuser.

Referring to the evidence in Smith’s case, he said: “the item is actually perhaps difficult to see how [the DPP] would likely have come to any different conclusion of which there was, indeed, corroboration of the complainant’s accounts; of which is actually, one supporting the different.”

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