Rochdale has been in the news a lot over the past couple of years, and mostly for all the wrong reasons. For many years, the authorities there and in other parts of the country turned a blind eye to the activities of Asian paedophile gangs
, terrified of being branded racist
in this land of white privilege
Now it seems that it wasn't only Asian taxi drivers who couldn't keep their hands off the young, but a white MP.
If you have not heard of Cyril Smith, it is fair to say that once you see him you will never forget him. A big man in every sense of the word, he once joked that thanks to him, the Liberals couldn't all leave the House of Commons in one taxi. If you can see the humour in that self-effacing put-down, there is sadly little else to laugh at in this Channel 4 documentary
Cyril Smith died three years ago this month, and as might be expected, these allegations have been around for some time. Actually, that is a colossal understatement because not only were allegations made against him decades ago concerning his activities at Knowl View School and Cambridge House Children's Home, they were investigated by the police
, who considered them credible.
Reporter Liz MacKean talks to people in the know: the police who investigated Smith, politicians who worked with him including at Rochdale Town Hall, and some of the boys he sexually abused.
When Bill Clinton was in the White House he was subjected to an intensive investigation and cross-examination over what was an if sordid but entirely consensual affair with a young woman. If the most powerful man in the world couldn't keep a lid on something as trivial as that, how could it happen that Cyril Smith - who was never even a prospective Prime Minister - was protected at the very highest level, and according to the police, protected he was. Indeed, they were so frustrated by the behaviour especially of Special Branch that they leaked details of the investigation to a local "alternative" rag, which led to the story reaching the columns of both Private Eye
and the New Statesman
For years conspiracy theorists
have claimed the security services have allowed powerful politicians and others to abuse children, especially boys, or have even facilitated such abuse in order to keep them in line; the Kincora Boys Home
in Northern Ireland has long been at the centre of such speculation.
Now, in the light of these new revelations - for the public - and the Savile case
, which is by no means over, perhaps it is time for an independent body to take a second look at all these allegations.