Exaro News Archive

Cyril Smith told detectives: I never behaved in any indecent way

Leading Liberal refused to make a statement to police, but then issued a staunch denial

By Nick Fielding | 16 July 2013

Exaro today publishes the full text of former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith’s denials to police of allegations that he sexually abused boys.

He launched a staunch denial to detectives that he sexually abused at least eight boys at Cambridge House hostel, the privately-run care home that he helped to establish in Rochdale.

The director of public prosecutions decided in 1970 against prosecuting Smith. Last November, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted that this decision, together with refusals to prosecute Smith in 1998 and 1999, would not have been made on the same evidence today.

“Members of the committee were wont to call at the hostel at all times unheralded”
– Cyril Smith, late former Liberal MP

A document that records Smith’s comments was obtained by Exaro from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The paper was included in file sent by police to the director of public prosecutions in 1970. It was released to Exaro under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some parts are redacted as marked below, but this is the full account of Smith’s comments as recorded by Lancashire Police. The part of the Lancashire force that carried out the investigation became incorporated into Greater Manchester Police when it was formed in 1974.

CYRIL SMITH, [redacted] 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. [Redacted] 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, [redacted] and work shyness.

At all times, we were in loco parentis 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 [redacted] 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 heretofore been questioned, but also as to the unfailing help and support that I have always been known to give to 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.

February 27, 1970.

Smith is also linked to Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London in evidence uncovered by Exaro, and also obtained by the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which is investigating allegations of child sex abuse in Richmond three decades ago. The Met last week arrested the former co-manager of the guest house.

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Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.