MP condemns Sir Cyril's ‘ignorant’ asbestos stance

Date published: 10 November 2008

Sir Cyril Smith has come under more pressure to apologise for claiming that “there is no danger to the public at large from asbestos”, as the Member of Parliament for Manchester Central has publicly condemned Sir Cyril, claiming that the town's former MP had “misled” the people of Rochdale.

Tony Lloyd MP expressed astonishment at the links that have been shown between Sir Cyril Smith and T&N following the publication of controversial correspondence on Rochdale Online between Sir Cyril and the asbestos giants.

Mr Lloyd said he would happily publicly debate asbestos safety issues with Sir Cyril and, as someone with personal experience of working with asbestos, he was keen to challenge Sir Cyril’s strong views on the subject.

"I worked at Turner Brothers in Trafford Park and was one of thousands of workers who Sir Cyril wrongly claims knew of the risks,” he said. “We did not and many have paid the ultimate price for this. Considering all the evidence and many thousands of asbestos-related deaths that we've seen over the past few decades, I am truly amazed that, as a former MP for a town badly hit by the tragedy of asbestos, Sir Cyril is still trotting out the ignorant arguments about the public not being at risk from asbestos.

"I hope he will now do the right thing and apologise for misleading people on the issue of asbestos safety."

Mr Lloyd’s intervention has also sparked fresh controversy after a member of the Rochdale Liberal Democrats' communication team tried to stop the Manchester MP from being heard.

Senior figures in Rochdale Labour Party have angrily condemned Adam Power after he contacted Rochdale Online to advise that Mr Lloyd’s remarks be removed from a news story last week because they had not been authorised by Mr Lloyd's office and could therefore be libelous against the MP himself.

Mr Power also said that the MP was threatening legal action against the Rochdale Labour Party for issuing the comments and that this could implicate Rochdale Online for publishing them.

It has since been revealed that Mr Power's claims were totally incorrect. Mr Lloyd's comments were fully authorised and the MP has spoken angrily about the actions of the Lib Dems in trying to silence his views.

When contacted by Rochdale Online, Mr Lloyd's Parliamentary Office clarified that the comments were a verbatim account of those released by the MP.

“This is the worst case of media bullying I have ever seen,” said Rochdale’s Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Simon Danczuk. 

“The wheels are falling off Paul Rowen’s spin team and they need to be brought under control. To be telling blatant lies with the aim of suppressing a story that is this important to the people of Rochdale is a disgrace. I hope the Liberal Democrats will recognise this and discipline [Mr] Power accordingly.”

Mr Power has responded by claiming that he acted in good faith.

"I contacted Tony Lloyd's office and spoke to his press officer Mr George Butterworth who claimed that he knew nothing about Mr Lloyd's comments on this matter", he said. "I contacted Rochdale Online and informed them that Mr Lloyd's office knew nothing about the comments he had supposedly made and they took the decision to withdraw his statement."

Mr Power wished to point out that he did not work for Mr Rowen's office, as suggested by Mr Danczuk.

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