Rochdale child sex abuse: A 30 year scandal that the authorities failed to stop

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Knowl View School, Rochdale Pic Credit: TheUKdatabase.com

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The report by the Independent Inquiry Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse into Rochdale is a  detailed devastating document of the failure of its senior local authority  officials , councillors, the CPS and even the Honours Committee to tackle  the issue of long standing abuse.

The only organisation that seems to come out well over this is Lancashire Police which tried to prosecute Sir Cyril Smith – the paedophile Liberal Democrat MP  – but was frustrated by a wrong and questionable legal decision by the Crown Prosecution Service. And it might be said the brave and diligent journalists on the Rochdale Alternative Press who did expose the scandal only to be let down by a feeble mainstream media who were too frightened to taken on the popular Sir Cyril.

The damning findings go well beyond the behaviour of Sir Cyril Smith – a VIP paedophile I doubt even Daniel Janner or Times columnist David Aaronvitch could defend – they show for three decades young children were sexually abused while very senior officials, council leaders and staff in the school and hostel did nothing or deliberately turned a blind eye.

There were two main sexual abuse centres in the town – Cambridge Health, a hostel for young workers – and Knowl View School, a  residential place for maladjusted kids which was supposed to be a refuge from pretty appalling homes.

Let’s be clear who we are talking about. The inquiry quotes  Diana Cavanagh (then Rochdale’s  Director of Education), writing in 1994, children who were attending Knowl View School “… have been unable to cope with mainstream and (often) their family circumstances. Many have a poor self-image, have been abused and are on the Child Protection Register, have not found it possible to make good relationships with other children. Some are extremely withdrawn, avoiding contact or relationships with others and running away if pressurised. Some are aggressive and violent towards their family, other pupils and staff, both posing a physical risk to others and disrupting other pupils’ education. Some manipulate or bully other children and constantly use inappropriate language or inappropriate sexual behaviour. They may be out of control and attention-seeking at home and school …”

These were the kids whom the authorities failed to protect from a predatory convicted paedophile,Roderick Hilton, from camping outside the school gates and entering the premises. They were the people who allowed Sir Cyril Smith to conduct bogus medical examinations  so he could cane the bare buttocks of young kids.

They were the people once it was known that kids from the school – one possibly as young as eight – were cottaging with sexual predators in public toilets in plain sight of the social services directorate’s office and tried to lambast the staff at the school for talking to an official from the local health authority who raised the alarm.

There is also a damning finding from the inquiry about the role of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee in their deliberations in recommending a knighthood for Cyril Smith.

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Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith Pic Credit: dreamcatchersfor abusedchildren.com

The inquiry found far from there being a cover up about his appalling behaviour – they knew all about it but didn’t believe it. The report says:

“It is also clear from the correspondence that what was of most concern to the PHSC was fairness towards Smith and concern for the reputational risk to the honours system caused by adverse media coverage.

 “Concern for those who may have been abused by Smith did not feature.

“Moreover, the documents show a marked tendency to take Cyril Smith’s progress in local and national politics, along with his previous honour (an MBE in 1966), as evidence that the allegations were unlikely to be true.

“This demonstrates a significant deference to power and an unwillingness to consider that someone in a position of public prominence might be capable of perpetrating abuse. This matters because the conferring of a knighthood on Smith was to make him even more powerful. ( my emphasis in bold).”

An interesting comment given recent events.

Then there are the two  Rochdale council leaders – one Labour and one Liberal Democrat. The former Labour leader is branded a liar by the inquiry.

“It was in our view shameful and a dereliction of his responsibility as Leader at the time that Farnell not only refused to accept any personal responsibility, but also was perfectly prepared to lay the blame on the Directors of Education and Social Services as well as the Chief Executive Officer for his claimed state of ignorance.697 In so doing, Mr Farnell soughtto shirk his responsibility and render himself totally unaccountable for the ills of Knowl View and the children who suffered. This is the opposite of honest, dutiful and responsible leadership.”

They are equally dismissive of Paul Rowen, the Lib Dem leader and later MP:

“We felt, just like Richard Farnell, that he was prepared to blame others for their faults without acknowledging his own failures of leadership. At best, he was insufficiently inquisitive about Knowl View School when the evidence that he knew about was that serious problems persisted there, which would not be resolved quickly; at worst, he turned a blind eye to the very serious problems that were in his judgment low down on the priority list.

“Although he boasted that the style of his administration was to be a departure from the past, his misplaced reliance on Council officers allowed him to sidestep his own responsibility, and blame others when he never made any or any sufficient enquiry either about the really serious problems that affected the school and its children or the efforts to deal with those problems while he was Leader. This demonstrated a lack of judgment and a failure of leadership.”

And two leading officials, were also criticised.

 Ian Davey, the Acting Director of Social Services, chose not to pursue child protection measures, a decision that was professionally indefensible and extremely poor judgment on his part.

“Diana Cavanagh, the Director of Education, commissioned reports and producedher own report. While some of this was useful, each of the reports was flawed in some respects, including factual accuracy. There was no urgency on the part of these senior officials to address the problems of sexual abuse at the school, and matters were left to drift.”

This is a catalogue of horrors. More will no doubt come out when the inquiry examine Lambeth and Nottingham. But I suspect it is the tip of a very large iceberg that even this huge inquiry will not be able to investigate. What about Richmond in south London, what will come out in Telford. What about Oxford, Staffordshire, Islington Rotherham,Leicestershire. What about other big cities and  has it been solved now. I doubt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elm Guest House: Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry to probe whether there was a conspiracy or cover up

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Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London

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Often it is the conspiracy and the cover up that is worse than the  original scandal.  I am not sure whether that will apply to the notorious Elm Guest House in Richmond, south west London if it really was a mecca for child sexual abuse as well as a bed and breakfast for consenting gay couples.

However the decision of the independent inquiry to focus on this as one of six major strands of the Westminster investigations  into alleged paedophile activity next year is very welcome.

The inquiry is also being careful to avoid findings of fact on whether any of the survivors and complainants were sexually abused or not by concentrating on whether there were cover ups when people reported sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s.

That is why it is good that the inquiry has accepted Esther Baker as both a complainant and a campaigner against child sexual abuse to  be a  core participant in the inquiry.

It does not mean that the inquiry  – as was made clear today  -takes a view on whether she was sexually abused by prominent people  but it does confer a status on her long standing and very outspoken campaign against sexual abusers.

It is worth  quoting the six main strands. The first is improper influence of police investigations.

On  Elm Guest House Mr Andrew O’Conner, counsel for the inquiry, said :

“A number of retired police officers have claimed that they# were indeed ‘warned off’ investigating possible cases of child sexual abuse committed by senior politicians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Several of these cases are linked to the Elm Guest House affair, which was itself the subject of investigation by the Metropolitan Police in its Operations Fairbank and Fernbridge. The claims that have been made are claims of conspiracy and cover up, and we submit that they go to the heart of the Inquiry’s work in this investigation.”

The second is improper influence by politicians.

“Have there been cases in which prosecutorial decisions in child sexual abuse cases have been the subject of improper influence from within the Westminster establishment? Questions of this nature relating to Cyril Smith were raised in the Rochdale investigation; we propose that you should pursue those questions in this investigation.

“Similar questions also arise in relation to prosecution decisions taken in at least two other cases – those of Peter Hayman and Victor Montague. We submit that those cases also should be investigated. And it is possible that the disclosure exercise that we are currently undertaking will raise similar questions in relation to other cases.”

The third is whether political parties were involved in improper decisions or ignored allegations. “What, for example, did the leadership of the Liberal Party know about the allegations against Cyril Smith?

Did they take those allegations seriously, and did they react appropriately?

“Similar questions have been raised about the way in which allegations relating to Peter Morrison were dealt with within the Conservative Party.

And how did the Westminster establishment generally react to efforts made to shine a light on child sexual abuse and associated institutional failings? I have already mentioned the well-known allegations relating to the Elm Guest House – they clearly touch on these issues.”

Then there are the role of government  and opposition whips – did they know about theses scandals and what did they do about it.

” Is it possible that on occasions in the past the Whips may have received allegations of child sexual abuse made against politicians in their own party, and then failed to report those allegations, or to take any other appropriate steps?

Is it possible,indeed, that the Whips may have taken active steps to conceal such allegations – in part to avoid embarrassing publicity and in part to gain a hold over the politician in question? ”

And there is the role of the honours system.

“Concerns have been expressed publicly about honours granted to individuals who had been accused of child sexual abuse, or where allegations of this nature were made after the honour had been granted.

Prominent amongst the cases that have raised concern are the knighthoods that were awarded to Cyril Smith and to Jimmy Savile.
We submit that the Inquiry should examine these matters.

We propose to investigate what policies have been and are followed in cases where candidates for honours havebeen the subject of allegations of this nature.

We will look at all relevant records, including those relating to Smith and Savile.”

Finally the lawyers want to investigate the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Mr O’Connor said this :

“The key issues of public concern in relation to PIE are its membership, which appears to have included senior members of the Westminster Establishment, and the suggestion that the organisation may have been funded by the government.

“These matters have already been the subject of a review commissioned by the Home Office and by a further independent review of that work by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. The original review found no evidence that PIE was funded by the Home Office’s Voluntary Service Unit (VSU), and Wanless and Whittam subsequently found nothing in registered files or in testimony offered by contemporaries in and around the VSU that funding of PIE might have taken place with the knowledge of the police or security services as part of an effort to infiltrate PIE. But Wanless and Whittam were not able to dismiss the latter suggestion entirely, and we submit that this investigation should explore public concern about the alleged position and influence of PIE members within Westminster, while mindful of the reviews which have already taken place into these matters.”

Interestingly only the Labour Party has applied for core participant status while these investigations take place. I am rather surprised that neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservative Party have applied – are they ignoring the implications of this inquiry or  do they not want to be questioned about it?

Of course some people notably Daniel Janner, the QC son of the late Greville Janner, who faced allegations of child sexual abuse, believe everything that happened involving prominent people in Westminster is the product of fantasists. While I can understand his determination to protect the reputation of his father, his sweeping generalisation exonerating everyone in Westminster is absurd. Would he defend Sir Cyril Smith and say it is all lies?

He tried to get core participant status yesterday – but it seemed only aimed to brand everyone complainant or survivor as a fantasist.

Daniel Janner is wrong to say all allegations of child sex abuse against his father must be fabricated

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Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

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There is nothing more understandable than a son and a daughter wanting to clear their father’s name of serious unproven allegations after he is no longer here to defend himself.Particularly if the allegations concern such a heinous crime as child sex abuse.

And their father Greville  was a national figure with a huge reputation as a fighter for reparations for the victims of the Holocaust.

However  his son Daniel Janner, himself a prominent barrister, has gone over the top in deciding that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse cannot examine the allegations against his father.

He told the BBC that all the claims  against the late Lord Janner by 33 people were fabricated, the police investigations into claims against his father were ” rubbish” and that the people concerned had colluded with each other to make false allegations.

For good measure he added that people were motivated by getting compensation and that he knew his father was totally innocent of all charges and had never been convicted of anything. He claimed the inquiry would be discrediting itself by looking into his father because the people making the claims would not be properly cross examined.by a barrister who would presumably accuse them all of being money grabbing liars.

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Daniel Janner QC Pic credit: http://www.regulatorycriminallawyers.co.uk

Now Janner is a prominent criminal lawyer. If you look at his entry in the Birmingham based No 8 chambers here you will see he has formidable record.

As the entry says: “High profile cases include:The Heysel Stadium football extraditions; The Knightsbridge Safety Deposit box robbery; Oyston and Martin rape trials; French student murder trial; “Happy slap” murder trial; London City Bond fraud trial; Gouldbourne Cayman Islands murder; McGrath money laundering; Cleeve Prior missing body murder; Lord of Fraud, Rodley trials.”

He also has defended a former headmaster against allegations of historic child sex abuse.

Therefore it is rather surprising as a QC that he  has decided that his father is totally innocent given that the Crown Prosecution Service, while rejecting the need for trial just before his death on medical grounds, concluded in 2015 that  “the evidential test was passed on the basis that the evidence is sufficient to have warranted charging and prosecuting Lord Janner in relation to the particular charges”.

A further independent investigation by Sir Richard Henriques into allegations against Janner concluded: ” I am satisfied that, in 1991, there was a sufficiency of evidence for a prosecution to be commenced against Janner for offences of indecent assault and buggery with Complainant 1.”

And ” Had the statement of Complainant 2 been forwarded to the CPS, there was, in my judgement, a sufficiency of evidence to commence a prosecution against Janner, in 2002, for indecent assault and buggery both with Complainant 1 and Complainant 2.”

and

” In my opinion there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in 2007, and Janner should have been arrested and interviewed and his home searched.  He should have been charged with offences of indecent assault and buggery with Complainant 1, Complainant 2 and Complainant 3.”

Finally there is the investigation by the police watchdog into the failure of the police investigation into Janner. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had served criminal and gross misconduct notices on 11 individuals in July.

Now if we are to believe Daniel Janner these respected bodies and Sir Richard have been taken in by lying child sex abuse survivors and must be (though I am sure he wouldn’t use such language ” a load of gullible twats.”

By saying that as Janner was not convicted of anything he shouldn’t be investigated by the Jay inquiry he also raises another question. Logically neither should Sir Cyril Smith nor Jimmy Savile be investigated because they can’t defend themselves and all allegations against them should be dismissed and forgotten. This puts him firmly in the camp of those who say really there is no such thing as any widespread child sex abuse and  an ideal advocate for the Justice for  Jimmy Savile  website which believes he is innocent.

I am aware the Janner allegations are highly controversial. Some like a former researcher  I interviewed who worked closely with Janner on Holocaust issues would 100 per cent concur with Daniel.

Another researcher  who worked for him had deep suspicions though no proof but told a story about a colleague  remarkably similar to one reported in the Jewish Chronicle this August. Only in this case Mr Janner did take the young man down to the sauna.

Whatever happens the Jay inquiry does need to look at Janner as part of its institutional abuse inquiry. There is too much smoke around to dismiss this particular fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A damning indictment of the DPP and its failure to prosecute Cyril Smith

My  Exaro colleagues Nick Fielding and Tim Wood deserve a big commendation for doggedly pursuing the Crown prosecution Service to force them to release a damning report revealing how the authorities missed their opportunity to prosecute  paedophile MP Cyril Smith while he was alive.

After using the Freedom of Information Act the CPS has finally  a year later released a police report showing the Rochdale authorities knew what Sir Cyril was up to – but  the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute,.

The police superintendent in charge of the investigation in 1970 wrote;

“It seems impossible to excuse his conduct. Over a considerable period of time, whilst sheltering beneath a veneer of respectability, he has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys towards whom he had a special responsibility.”

No action was taken, and the paedophile MP was free to continue sexually and physically abusing boys for many more years. The full report is on the Exaro website.

One can only say if they had acted a lot of people would have been spared suffering such predatory sordid practices and could have gone on to have had fulfilling lives and enjoyed the innocence of the rest of their childhood. The authorities have a lot to answer.

Police examine 33 new boxes of files in Rochdale child sex abuse scandal

Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith at 1990 Liberal Democrat conference. pic credit: PA News Photo via Huffington Post

Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith at 1990 Liberal Democrat conference. pic credit: PA News Photo via Huffington Post

Expect major new revelations about child sex abuse in Rochdale  around the late paedophile Mp Sir Cyril Smith as the police examine 33 boxes of new evidence uncovered from Knowl View Special school.

 A report in Exaro News by my colleague Nick Fielding warns that the files now being examined by the police could provide further horrendous disclosures surrounding child sexual abuse in the town. Although the police abandoned an investigation in Cyril Smith they are now investigating complaints of child sexual abuse involving the school committed by other people at the time.

The investigation comes as a new book by Labour MP Simon Danzcuk, the MP for Rochdale will be published this month which  will look at Cyril Smith’s career and connections.

 Far from going away it looks like that further revelations will show just like the Jimmy Savile affair, Cyril Smith was able to get away with his appalling predatory career without any hindrance or intervention from people who should have known better.

Would Michael Gove have unwittingly given Sir Cyril Smith freedom to set up a “paedophile friendly” school?

New disclosures from my excellent Exaro News colleague Nick Fielding reveal that paedophile MP Sir Cyril Smith backed taking the troubled Knowl View special school in Rochdale out of local authority control.
His story based on hitherto unseen official papers shows that Rochdale Council narrowly missed losing local authority control of the school where children were sexually assaulted and the MP was a governor and a regular visitor.
Martin Digan, a care worker at Knowl View, tried to blow the whistle about the abuse. He had just become acting head of care at the residential school for boys with learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
He told Exaro: “It was Smith who was pushing for the school to be controlled by its governors – outside of the local council’s control.”
“It would have become nothing short of a sweetshop for paedophiles.”
Luckily in 1992 under the Tory government of Sir John Major that would have been extremely unusual and the scheme came to nought.
Fast forward 20 years and such a move is commonplace and nobody would question it. Would a present Tory education secretary now refuse such a proposal for Sir Cyril Smith like Jimmy Savile was an extremely popular and respected figure at the time and nobody publicly knew anything about his appalling private life? I doubt it.
But the reason I have singled out Michael Gove is that he is actively opposing any statutory reporting of child sexual abuse to the police by teachers or other people in authority in the schools system. He has said so in a letter to his former Cabinet colleague Cheryl Gillan.
This to me seems madness when at the same time he is freeing up the education system and allowing anybody to set up a school and wants every school out of local authority control as soon as possible. He is also encouraging unqualified teachers.
Now either Michael Gove takes the view that teachers are so decent that they could not possibly harm any child ever or he doesn’t really care what happens. I doubt he is one of the small minority of Tory libertarians who believe child sex is fine. In my view after studying the very duplicitous and nasty way some paedophiles behave,he has opened the door to make child sexual abuse more prevalent in the education system and put more children at risk. He could soon get a rude awakening, far worse than the present troubles at a badly run Al-Madinah school in Derby.

Paedophile MP Cyril Smith: Possible Questions for Jenny Tonge and Tim Razzall?

Tim Razzall  Emphatically says he knew nothing  Pic courtesy Liberal Democrats

Tim Razzall Emphatically says he knew nothing
Pic courtesy Liberal Democrats

Sir David Williams, former lb dem leader of Richmond Council - pic courtesy: richmond.gov.uk Sir David Williams, former lb dem leader of Richmond Council – pic courtesy: richmond.gov.uk
The Met Police’s official acknowledgement to Channel Four’s Dispatches programme that Cyril Smith visited the notorious Elm House guest house in Barnes in south-west London – which is alleged to be used by paedophiles raises serious questions for the Liberal Democrats.
So far attention has been centred on former Liberal leaders, David Steel. Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell,the latter who was shown (possibly unfairly) to be heaping praise on Cyril Smith at his funeral.
But the real Liberal Democrats who should be quizzed are Baroness Tonge, Lord Razzall and Sir David Williams on the scandalous affair that allowed Cyril Smith to sexually assault young boys.
They were the Liberal members of Richmond Council in the aftermath of highly publicised police raid on Elm Guest House and responsible – along with the previous Tory administration – for the safe keeping of children in the council’s Grafton Close children’s home.
Sir David is so much in denial that he believes that the current prosecutions by the Met Police of a senior member of council staff are only being undertaken to please the press.
Lord Razzall, who later moved a motion to sack Louis Minster, director of social services, who was in charge of Richmond’s social services at the time of the alleged abuse, told me at the time – that he couldn’t remember why he moved the motion.
However for the record he says emphatically:” I had no knowledge of the raid you refer to which in any event predated our taking control of the Richmond Council and I had never been a member of the relevant committee or a reader of the News of the World.”
“I did remember that the Chair of Social Services had lost confidence in the Director as often happened on a change of political control of a local council. You did not raise with my any issue of child abuse and indeed had you done so I would have told you that the Directors’ retirement had nothing to do with the events you referred to in your blog. Indeed had you raised them with me it would have been the first time I was aware of them.”
“In the current climate there can hardly be a more serious libel than to allege that I may have covered up Cyril Smith’s visits to Elm Guest House so that he could go on to abuse others.
“For the record, I only became aware of the allegations about Cyril Smith in 2013, fifteen years after I ceased to be a Richmond Councillor.”

Jenny Tonge: Silence pic courtesy: The Guardian

Jenny Tonge: Silence
pic courtesy: The Guardian

And Jenny Tonge, then chair of the social services committee, who was informed of the scandal, and under her watch there were fresh attempts to raise the scandal,is refusing to say anything – even before people were arrested and charged.
Obviously all three can at the moment shelter behind the sub judice rules but when the trial is over next summer – they should be pursued to provide an explanation. At last Tim Razzall has made his views clear now.
But one must at least ask – did they know about Cyril Smith’s visits to Elm Guest House?-