Cyril Smith molested boy, 11, at National Liberal Club – and introduced him to David Steel: Further embarrassment for the Lib Dems after another shocking revelation
- 29stone paedophile MP took schoolboy from Rochdale to London
- Introduced him to party leader David Steel, molested him later at HQ
- Victim, now 49, claims he was ‘suicidal’ until the age of 25 after assault
A man told yesterday how he was molested as an 11-year-old by Cyril Smith in a bedroom at the National Liberal Club.
The paedophile MP took the schoolboy from his Rochdale constituency to London and introduced him to Liberal Party leader David Steel at Westminster.
Hours later, 29stone Smith sexually assaulted the boy at the club which housed the party’s headquarters.
Simon Danczuk, the MP who helped expose the serial abuser, said the Lib Dems can no longer resist the call for an inquiry into the scandal. He said the latest shocking revelations took it right to the heart of the Liberal Party and proved Smith was abusing boys ‘right under their noses’.
The schoolboy’s sordid encounter with Smith took place in 1978 after his mother spotted a story in the Rochdale Observer newspaper. It said the MP had been invited to nominate a Rochdale boy from a one-parent family for a free place at public school.
She contacted Smith and was told it was Reed’s School in Cobham, Surrey, founded in 1813 as a boarding school for children who had lost one or both parents. After visiting the family, Smith took the 11-year-old by train to the capital.
Smith’s victim, who is now 47 and doesn’t want to be identified, said: ‘He sat next to me on the train. I remember he ate a massive breakfast of fried eggs and bacon.’
The MP first took the schoolboy to the Houses of Parliament where he met Mr – now Lord – Steel.
The victim recalls little of the meeting save for a brief introduction but said: ‘I remember telling all my friends at the time that I had met the leader of the Liberal Party – it was something to brag about.’
In the afternoon he travelled to Surrey to tour the school whose former pupils include Tim Henman and where current boarding fees range from £22,000 to £27,000 a year.
On returning to London he and Smith arrived at the National Liberal Club near Parliament. The Liberal Party HQ was based in offices in the building and it also provided accommodation for members.
Smith had arranged for himself and the boy to share a bedroom that night. His victim said: ‘I was sitting on the side of the bed. I had the sense at that point that I wanted to keep my vest and pants on.
‘He was kneeling down in front of me and asking me to take them off. I was slightly uneasy. Then he insisted I take my underpants off and he attempted to fondle me. I then went sort of “whoa” and raised my hands. He backed away and that was it. He stood up and moved away and I went to sleep. Nothing else happened. I think we slept in the same bed but I am not sure. I was an 11-year-old child. It felt a bit weird and then it felt like it was really wrong.’
Now a father of two, living and working in London, he added: ‘I think I was very, very lucky. It was a very close escape, I know.’
Returning home he didn’t tell his mother what had happened but says now the incident had a profound impact. He said: ‘I was a happy 11-year-old doing well at school but from the age of 11 to 25, 14 years, it was just a wasteland. I was suicidal.’
Smith was ‘disappointed’ when told the boy had decided not to take up the Reed’s School offer. The victim finally told his mother what had happened some ten years later. ‘She was mortified,’ he said. His mother added: ‘I was terribly anguished and have been since. But Smith was extraordinarily plausible.’
Her son said: ‘If my small story can encourage other people to get in touch and flesh out the real truth here and prompt a public inquiry, then so be it.’
He said he had decided against contacting the police, but added: ‘I would not be against talking to the police if necessary.’ Smith, knighted in 1988, was the MP for Rochdale for two decades from 1972 for the Liberal Party and then the Lib Dems. He died, aged 82, in 2010.
Mr Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale whose book Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith was serialised in the Daily Mail, said: ‘Revelation after shocking revelation has emerged about the abuse meted out to young boys by one of their most senior MPs and yet the Lib Dems are doing absolutely nothing to inquire into it.
‘Just how long does Nick Clegg think he can resist the public demand for answers from his party? Here we have David Steel, who is in denial over Smith, being introduced to a potential victim just hours before Smith attempts to sexually molest him in the National Liberal Club – right at the heart of the party.
‘Surely senior figures at the club that night must have wondered why a young boy was sleeping in the same room as Smith.’
Lord Steel has threatened to sue the Mail over criticism of the Liberal leadership’s handling of the Smith affair.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: ‘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 the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats. David Steel has no recollection of this.’
- If you or someone you know is trying to come to terms with the distress caused by physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect in childhood, please contact The National Association for People Abused in Childhood for free support on 0800 085 3330 or visit the website: www.napac.org.uk