MP Sir Cyril Smith police interview transcript – Child abuse allegations

‘I won’t accept being charged’: Former MP Sir Cyril Smith ‘bullied police investigating claims he molested young boys’

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  • Secret documents reveal he demanded police hand over names of accusers

  • Liberal MP should’ve been prosecuted while alive but police and CPS failed

  • Transcript reveals he used 1970 election as excuse for ‘interference’

  • Smith believed to have abused children in care and even Commons staff

Sir Cyril Smith tried to bully police after they launched an investigation into claims he molested young boys, according to files.

The late politician went to a police station in 1970 and demanded to know why  detectives were investigating the claims.

Officers later submitted a file to prosecutors with a covering letter that said: ‘He appears guilty of indecent assault.’

During their meeting Smith tried to find out from officers who his accusers were and admitted approaching two of the teenagers.

An officer then warned him about interfering with witnesses and accused the politician of ‘fishing’ for information, according to the records.

Last night an MP claimed the documents – released in a Freedom of Information request this week – prove that 30st Smith was trying to meddle with the police investigation.

Six weeks after his visit to Rochdale police station detectives passed the file to prosecutors, describing his conduct as ‘inexcusable’.

Their covering note added: ‘He has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys to whom he had a special responsibility. He appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault.’

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The file, submitted by Lancashire Constabulary, was examined by prosecutors who decided to take no further action against him.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now admitted it should have prosecuted the politician after allegations of abuse in the 1960s.

The decision not to prosecute left Smith free to prey on other vulnerable young children, it later emerged.

In 1972 – two years after the case was dropped – he won the Rochdale by-election for the Liberals and served as MP until 1992. He died aged 82 in 2010.

This week it emerged that Jimmy Savile could also have been stopped from abusing children up to 50 years ago, but police failed to act on allegations.

Documents show that in January 1970 Smith, then a prominent Liberal councillor, asked to meet detectives at Rochdale police station to find out the names of his accusers.

A transcript of the conversation between Smith and detectives shows he was determined to challenge the police for launching an investigation.

Smith began the meeting by asking bluntly: ‘Why are the inquiries going on?’ and ‘Whom did you approach for statements?’ He also asked what stage the police had reached in their inquiry and when he would know if he was to be charged.

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said the documents prove Smith tried to bring pressure to bear on the police to drop charges.

Smith was accused of inflicting humiliating punishments on teenage boys in the 1960s and 70s at a hostel he had helped to set up. His victims say he would spank their naked bottoms and order them to strip for ‘degrading’ medicals despite a doctor not being present.

It emerged that between 1970 and 1998 police tried to have him charged three times but when his 80-page file was first passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions it was marked ‘no further action’.

Last year the CPS admitted Smith avoided prosecution only because sex abuse cases were dealt with differently 40 years ago.

Here is the actual the transcript of that tense interview in full, followed by his police statement of the following month.

Saturday 24th January 1970 – 11.20am at Rochdale

W.          Introduction

S.            Well obviously I know that enquiries are going on and what I would like to ask you are three things, one of which I suspect you are not going to tell me.

  1. Why are the enquiries going on?

  2. To whom you approach for statements?

  3. And the most important, I understand the enquiries go over a period of 4 months, certainly over many weeks, and things are now beginning to gather rumours and so on, and what I would really like to know if you will tell me, is what stage have you reached in your enquiries, and when you will have reached some sort of conclusion, and when will I know if there are to be proceedings against me?

W.          Well, first of all the enquiries have not gone over many months – I’ve only taken charge just over a week ago, so we are as yet in the early stages. I think you know what the enquiries are about.

S.            “Yes.”

W.          The enquiries are far from complete, and what I had in mind was to see what the enquiries were about and then have words with you about it. At the moment they are a long way off being completed. I think you will appreciate they extend over a number of years.

S.            “You mean they go a long way back.”

W.          Yes.

S.            “Well, I don’t know what inference you are making, but as I understand it, they go back to the question of a boys’ hostel in Rochdale.”

W.          Yes, that’s  true.

S.            “Which closed in 1964.”

W.          And you were connected with that.

S.            “That is so, I was Secretary of it.”

W.          Well, very briefly the allegations concerning that, are that you went along there and examined these boys by taking their pants down. Whether that’s right or not, I don’t know.

S.            “I understand that that’s the subject of the investigation.”

W.          Which, pending on what explanation you put forward, would seem improper.

S.            “Have you any idea how long the enquiries are going to take?”

W.          Again, that depends on the circumstances and how many are involved, certainly a large number of lads passed through the hostel.

W.          If my information is right, you spoke to one of the boys, who has been interviewed.

S.            “Yes.”

W.          What was that about?

S.            “He told me what you had been asking him. He told me he had made a statement to you. I’ve seen two of them and the third came to see me. I’ve asked them if they have made statements.”

W.          I must warn you about interfering with witnesses.  The only reason I am here this morning is because you wanted to see me. I did not want to see you.  You must have some suspicion about you and them, about what’s in the statements or you would not be here, would you?

S.            “I would like to make it clear – the two who I have seen were after I had made the appointment to see you here. You can go and ask them they will verify it.”

W.          Are you suggesting that these lads are conspiring together to……

S.            No, I’m not, they are telling the truth as they see it.”

W.          So there is some explanation then, because it would be remarkable coincidence if they all made the same allegation about you. They are saying that whilst at this hostel, you took them in a room, took their pants down and examined them. Is there some explanation for this?

S.            “Well – er – I’m hesitating, not because I’m frightened, but I’ve seen a Solicitor obviously, and he says I must make no statement or answer no questions. If they want to question you on those lines, tell them that you have appointed a Solicitor. It’s not that I’m afraid to answer the questions, it’s purely because I’m advised not to do.”

W.          Well that’s a matter for you.

S.            “You know I could say a lot.”

W.          I suppose you are as anxious as I am to get this matter cleared up.

S.            “Course I am.”

W.          If you wish, I can take you through these allegations now, but if you don’t want to make any explanations, there is no point in my doing so. It is a matter for you.

S.            “Well, I don’t feel like going through them without a Solicitor, I assume that I could have one when you went through them?”

W.          You can have one now if you wish. Who is your Solicitor?

S.            BLACKED OUT

W.          Well you can ring him now if you want.

S.            “Have you any more to see apart from those three?”

W.          We are seeing a lot of people, far more than what you have named.

S.            “Can you tell me who they are?”

W.          We will go into that later.

W.          What you have come on this morning is just a fishing expedition. You want to see what we know.

S.            Started laughing  – “Well, yes, fishing – I think that is fair comment. But one of my problems is – I don’t know if you know about local affairs.”

W.          No, I have no connection locally.

S.            Well the situation is this. In three weeks time, I’ve got to give a decision, one way or another, whether I’m going to fight the next Parliamentary Election as a Liberal in Rochdale, and if I’m going to be charged, I’m not going to accept. Guilty or Not Guilty, it would be unfair to the Party. On the other hand, if I am not going to be charged I would like to have a do, and I have got to make my mind up in the next three weeks.

Although I understand you would not make the decision if I am to be charged, it would have to be reported to the D.P.P.”

W.          No, that is not necessary it depends.

S.            “Oh well, I thought it would, being as the offences are more than six months old.”

W.          No, there is no time limit on these offences.

S.            Well I was told that by the Solicitor.”

W.          I’m not saying that it won’t be referred, but it is not necessary. It all depends on what explanation you give. We shall go into the character and background of these boys, and we shall do the same with you, and if there is a prima facie case, we will have to see.

S.            “I know you have got your job to do, and I know you will do it.”

T.            Does your wife know you have come down?

S.            “I’m not married, but my mother knows. I’ve made it quite clear at home.”

T.            Do you live with your mother?

S.            “Yes.”

S.            “If you only knew what I have done for these boys. There was one occasion when we had an outbreak of Scabies or Rabies.”

W.          Do you mean Scabies?

S.            BLACKED OUT

W.          Well, the essentials of these allegations are, that whilst they were at the hostel, you went there, took them on one side, took their pants down and examined their private parts. Is there any substance in that for any reason at all, did that occur?

S.            “Are you asking me to make a statement?”

W.          I’m asking you if this occurred, because this is what they are saying.

S.            “So that in fact, if I were to answer you it would not be used in evidence, and could not be.”

W.          It could do.

S.            “Well, in that case, I refuse to answer you.”

W.          I think there is little point in carrying on this conversation, because I told you what the substance of the allegations against you were. If there is an explanation for it and you want to come forward with it now, then we will look into that. It is entirely a matter for you.

S.            “Well I’ve been in touch with a Solicitor and he’s told me to say nothing, and write nothing.”

T:            Does your Solicitor know you have come here this morning?

S.            “Yes.”

T.            Why didn’t he come with you?

S.            “He said that being as I wanted to see you and that you did not want to see me, it was not necessary. He said that when you want to see me he would come with me.”

S.            “Can you tell me before I go, when you will complete your enquiries?”

W.          No. This hostel closed in 1964 and the investigations will take some time.

S.            “Right then. Thank you.”

CYRIL SMITH, Rochdale says:

I am not prepared to make a statement at this stage as to the allegations made by the eight boys, particulars of which you have supplied to me. I am, however, prepared to say this. I was active in the running and administration of the hostel.

The object was to help the under-privileged and deprived boys of over school leaving age, many of whom had social, domestic, health and other problems and to get them settled continuous and productive employment. In respect of some of the boys, we were faced with difficult problems of discipline arising from general misconduct, and work shyness.

At all times, we were in loco parents to the boys as part of an agreement signed by each boy on his entering the Hostel. I produce a copy of the agreement.

The Warden and her husband lived on the premises and the “Quiet Room” which had no lock on the door was some three feet away from their living quarters.

Members of the committee were wont to call at the Hostel at all times unheralded, and (SECTION BLACKED OUT) would call at least three or four times per week to talk to the boys sometimes in my presence, but usually in my absence and they would discuss personal or other problems with the boys.  I should like to point out that two of the boys resident in the Hostel were elected to represent the boys and attended the monthly Committee meetings.

I never heard a single complaint as to any conduct of mine being made by any boy or any Committee Member or anybody else and I am quite astounded at these present complaints made so long after the alleged events.

I am in the position to call very many witnesses not only as to my general integrity, which has never been questioned, but also as to the unfailing help and support I have always been known to give my fellow townsfolk in general, and the youth of the town in particular.

In fact, the greater part of my life has been dedicated to these ends. Personally, I would just like to point out that the mere existence of these allegations, if they become known, may be damaging to my public and private career, but, at the same time, I wish to state most emphatically that I have never behaved in any indecent way towards any of these boys but have done my best to help them at a difficult stage in their lives.

27th February, 1970.

 

transcript

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