CSAinquiry

  1. 2. There is more to say about written evidence adduced today by , but I intend to come back to that. For this summary, I have mainly focussed on the aural testimony. And I thought today was going to be an easy day…

  2. 1. Day 9 of Westminster hearings at – my round-up in 20 tweets. Today, it was the Green party and the honours system in the dock, I mean, witness box. Rather unexpectedly, there was another car crash. And I bet you guessed the wrong one…

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    That’s true. I had personal experience of Mr two-face and his bully-boy threatening tactics. The detective in charge of the re-investigation in the 70s said he was a supplier of boys as well as an abuser. He said he was projected and would take others down if they ‘dobbed’ him in

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    Why not take a break from Brexit and politicians who are falling out with one another, left, right and centre? Here’s a fall-out of a different kind: involving Lord Steel (if he hasn’t already been suspended) and his cavalier response to child abusing Cyril Smith:

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    Wow! A telling off for Steel from the Libs. I don’t think he will be shaking in his boots – but how many children could he have saved from sexual abuse if he had acted properly?

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    Failure of David Steel to report to police Cyril Smith’s confession of sexual offences against boys would STILL not be a crime today. Yet another argument for mandatory reporting. Everyone is responsible to report when they know such a crime has been committed.

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    13b. But the failure to act over must not all be blamed on the dismal David Steel . His pathetic response to the claims against Cyril Smith and, worse, his derision of them, typifies MPs’ and UK authorities’ failure more widely – and the media’s.

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    13a. Overnight, Jo Swinson, LibDem MP and deputy leader, announced that party had begun disciplinary action against former Liberal leader David Steel following his testimony. See my tweet round-up of “car crash” from yday:

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    12. In addition, in my view, must inevitably condemn David Steel for his derision of allegations about Cyril Smith given that the CPS admitted that there were three missed opportunities to prosecute him, let alone Smith’s confession to Steel.

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    11. In my view, inevitably also has to condemn David Steel for his derision of allegations about Cyril Smith as “tittle tattle” and “scurrilous hearsay” given the compelling nature of evidence against him, as found by inquiry’s Rochdale report.

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    10. In my view, must reach the inescapable conclusion that David Steel failed dismally to respond anywhere near properly to the allegations about Cyril Smith when he first heard them in 1979 – especially in light of Smith’s confession to him.

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    9. David Steel added to : “I am a bit concerned about the unqualified way in which, ‘You cannot libel the dead.’ The dead have got relatives and friends, and I think it’s rather scandalous.” No thought still for survivors of the likes of Cyril Smith.

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    8. I predict now that will say how very grateful it is for the suggestion by David Steel that political parties should be able to carry out DBS checks on election candidates, and duly recommend exactly that. But that will not save Steel’s skin…

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    7. When the questions at finally stopped after a long hour for David Steel , he added two points to inquiry panel. First, he suggested that political parties should be able to check on election candidates with Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)…

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    6. And, after the 67-minute session, a lawyer for one core participant at looked visibly shocked in ante-room outside hearing room. “That was a complete car crash,” was the only comment. And that was clear for all to see – except for David Steel .

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    5. As one survivor in public gallery pointed out to me immediately after the testimony of David Steel , he walked from the witness box at and chatted to colleagues, seemingly oblivious to the bomb he had just set off to obliterate his reputation…

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    4. Asked whether his failure to act over Cyril Smith in 1979 was linked to Jeremy Thorpe case at time, David Steel told : “I don’t think so, no. I have obviously thought about it because that’s the allegation in some of the… [inquiry] statements.”

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    3. Happily, counsel for reminded David Steel that he had learnt of the allegations about Cyril Smith (to which he confessed to Steel) around the time of Jeremy Thorpe’s trial. Steel said: “Yes. The Thorpe thing was a very ghastly experience.” …

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    2. For David Steel , the start of his leadership of the Liberal party was over-shadowed by Jeremy Thorpe. His latter years as a LibDem peer will be overshadowed by Cyril Smith. Jeremy Thorpe and Cyril Smith – the two bookends of Steel’s dismal political life.

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    1. Fall-out from day 8 of Westminster hearings at – in 13 tweets. Some further key points about yesterday’s testimony by David Steel, , at Westminster hearings. For background, see my tweet round-up of day 8 yesterday:

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    LibDems begin disciplinary action against former Liberal leader David Steel following his testimony to , LibDem deputy leader Jo Swinson revealed overnight. My tweet round-up from inquiry hearing yday (more on that soon):

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    33. Counsel to said to David Steel : “May I suggest, when you have a moment, you should read the report.” Steel: “Thank you very much. Okay.” And there, in the witness box, died those dismissive comments on Cyril Smith’s abuse by .

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    32. But counsel to did tell David Steel : “The police were very keen and enthusiastic that Cyril Smith should be prosecuted.” Steel. “Right.” Counsel: “But he never was.” Steel: “Yes, well, I knew nothing about that at the time.”

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    31. Counsel to was being rather kind not also to point out to the know-nothing David Steel that the inquiry also found that prosecutors missed no fewer than THREE opportunities to prosecute his grotesque colleague Cyril Smith…

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    30. David Steel to counsel to : “The police investigation [into Cyril Smith] should have been pursued?” Counsel: “Yes… If you read the Rochdale investigation report, Lord Steel, you will see… the DPP’s decision was turned around extremely quickly.”

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    29. David Steel whimpered counsel to re Cyril Smith: “Sorry, can you enlighten me: does that inquiry justify the allegations, confirm the allegations, or what?” Counsel: “That their evidence was compelling.” …

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    28. And did David Steel realise that had published Rochdale report “a couple of months” before his “tittle tattle” comments re Cyril Smith? “No, I haven’t read it.” Still not read it? “No, I haven’t, I haven’t seen it.”

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    27. But did David Steel realise that had 3 wks of hearings about Rochdale the year before his “tittle tattle” comments re Cyril Smith? “I can’t remember if I was aware of that at the time.” Bg for Steel et al :

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    26. Counsel to asked David Steel why, on Newsnight last June, he dismissed evidence that Cyril Smith sexually abused boys as “tittle tattle” and “scurrilous hearsay”. David Steel said that he had the book by in mind…

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    25. Asked whether he told honours committee about Cyril Smith’s confession to him when recommending him for his knighthood in 1988, David Steel told : “No, it never occurred to me to tell the honours committee about it.” .

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    24. Asked how Liberal party cld be confident that Cyril Smith was not still offending in way he had confessed, David Steel to : “I don’t think the issue arose. I mean, it wasn’t a question of being confident about it. It just didn’t cross our minds.”

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    23. David Steel, re Cyril Smith, bashed Des Wilson at : “After he’d been in charge of the election in 1992, he rather fell out with my successor, Paddy Ashdown. I don’t know the reasons why, I’m afraid.” “But they did have a big fall-out, and Des became a bit bitter.”

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    22. Asked about Cyril Smith, Liberal party’s response to RAP in 1979: “All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.” Counsel to : “Bit of a silly thing to have said, though, don’t you agree?” David Steel : “Quite possibly, yes. Yes.” …

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    21. David Steel : “He just accepted that the story was correct… obviously I disapproved, but it was – as far as I was concerned – past history.” “As I say, before he was an MP, before he was even a member of my party. It had nothing to do with me.”

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    20. David Steel to on Cyril Smith: “So I saw no reason, or no locus, to go back to something that had happened during his time as a councillor.” He referred to the police investigation “two decades previously”. Even though it was 10 years earlier.

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    19. David Steel , to on Cyril Smith, continued: “Anyway, it was quite old. But it was certainly before he was an MP and before he was even a member of my party. My point was that he had gone on since then to be mayor of Rochdale, to be given the MBE.”

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    18. Counsel to asked David Steel whether he challenged Cyril Smith that he was admitting not only to “spanking of bottoms” but to indecent assaults. “No, I didn’t have the magazine with me, so I wasn’t going into the detail,” came Steel’s reply.

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    17. David Steel told what Cyril Smith told him: “He had been in charge of, or had some supervisory role in, a children’s hostel.” “He’d been investigated by the police, and that they had taken no further action, and that was the end of the story.”

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    16. David Steel , on his “fairly brief” discussion with Cyril Smith, told : “What I said to him was, ‘What’s all this about you in Private Eye?’ “And he said, rather to my surprise, ‘It is correct.’” Yes, you read that correctly. Jee-bloody-zus.

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    15. On Private Eye’s article on Cyril Smith, summarising RAP’s report, David Steel told : “I accepted the article as presumably correct, which is why I questioned Cyril Smith about it.” It was “simply a conversation” in House of Commons – a “fairly brief” discussion.

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    14. In 1979, Private Eye, summarising and following up a detailed report in Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), said that Smith had physically and sexually assaulted boys at a hostel in Rochdale. “I happen to be a subscriber,” David Steel told , “and so I had read it.”

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    13. Next, time for David Steel, aka , to face questions at . Began easily enough. What was Cyril Smith like? “Well, I listened to the evidence this morning of Des Wilson, and I thought he put it very well, that he was a rather Jekyll and Hyde character.”

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    12. Des Wilson replied to Alexis Jay at : “I think if you started looking into extra-marital affairs in the House of Commons, I think you could never stop.” “But a criminal activity of this kind… I would have expected to be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

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    11. Alexis Jay, chairwoman of , asked Des Wilson her FIRST question of a witness in Westminster hearings: “Would there be a distinction made between what were potentially criminal allegations and… other activities… such as extra-marital affairs or heavy drinking?”

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    10. Des Wilson on culture at Liberal party, Tory party, (and, he said, church, police and BBC) re cases such as Cyril Smith told : “We don’t want to rock this boat. “Once we start making a big issue of one person in the parliamentary party, where will it all lead?”

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    9. Des Wilson to on failure by Liberal party, led by David Steel , over Cyril Smith in 1979: “No inquiry was set up. So it kind of died. I mean, I admit that it is appalling that it did, and I don’t understand how it could have, but it did.”

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    8. While saying that David Steel “has a lot outstanding qualities”, Des Wilson told re Cyril Smith: “He didn’t like confrontation at any time on any thing.” “He must have hated this… I think that he would have just not wanted it to go anywhere.”

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    7. On Liberal party’s failure to take any action re Cyril Smith in 1979, Des Wilson told : “It seems incredible to me… I wasn’t involved in the party at the time… I just assumed that this was a bombshell that would resonate.”

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    6. Des Wilson told that Cyril Smith “was very, very much a Jekyll and Hyde character.” On his reaction when allegations surfaced in 1979 that Smith had physically and sexually assaulted boys at a hostel in Rochdale, he said: “I just instinctively believed them.”

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    5. Cyril Smith was a “larger-than-life figure”, Des Wilson told . But he “used his popularity to blackmail the party leadership by constant threats to resign if he did not get his way and was generally a bullying, selfish, manipulator of his public image.”

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    4. Des Wilson to : “A lot of the MPs had come down with great ambitions and hopes that now they were in national politics, they were going to really make it, and only to find that they were sitting on the back-benches, unnoticed.”

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    3. Des Wilson, Liberal president from 1986 to 1987, told about the Liberal party at the time: “It was almost like two parties. The party in the country was very strong.” But, he continued: “The parliamentary party was a bit of a rabble, to be honest.”

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    2. After Tory’s “Sir” Peter Morrison on Monday and Tuesday, focus at today was on Liberal’s “Sir” Cyril Smith. First up, LibDem president Baroness Brinton who said that he and Jeremy Thorpe, those two great titans of Liberal party, “cordially loathed each other”.

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    1. Day 8 of Westminster hearings at – my round-up in 33 tweets. David Steel, , skewered on his complacency. Background : While most in UK hate the LibDems, we learnt that many LibDem MPs have long hated each other.

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    Reflections on yesterday’s hearing: David Steel on Cyril Smith.

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    Dear Sir, I just want to thank you for doing an excellent journalistic job in keeping the public well informed about the current inquiry into establishment paedophilia. Yours Faithfully, a concerned Parent and Grandparent.

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    Interesting….

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    Check out for summaries this evening and for the duration of the chilling and disturbing Westminster hearings of the official inquiry into child sexual abuse . Clearly not everything has been adduced that ought to have been. It’s crucial that many ask why.

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    When you are an MP it has EVERYTHING to do with YOU on who you hand more POWER to It is DEFINITELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY 🤔You can’t say, “none of my business”, when it’s some-one you vouch for, that’s abused kids🤔

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    Appreciate your efforts in keeping us updated. Thanks.

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    Suffer little children… Do you lose your heart in the House of Cards?

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    DAVID STEEL – still completely indifferent and ignorant to his own shocking behaviour.

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    I suspect he is resigned to his fate. I hope he will try to redeem himself by supporting changes to the Law to bring in Mandatory reporting. As a Liberal Democrat myself, this a shameful moment for our predecessor Party and we must try to get the changes needed.

  65. Yes, counsel to asked him that yesterday. And David Steel said, in essence, that the acts dated from before his time as an MP and before he joined Liberal party, and so it was not his problem.

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