Rochdale inquiry: alleged victim came face-to-face with Cyril Smith on wedding day

Date published: 11 October 2017

An alleged victim of abuse by Cyril Smith told the second day of an inquiry of how he came face-to-face with the politician on his wedding day in 1969.

For decades throughout his career, the former Liberal MP was the subject of repeated sex abuse claims. He was knighted in 1988, and died in 2010 aged 82, having never faced prosecution.

On Monday 9 October The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) opened an inquiry into alleged abuse which took place in Rochdale at Cambridge House Hostel and Knowl View residential school, when Smith was a governor.

Speaking anonymously, the witness (‘A1’) told how he was subject to sexual abuse by Smith after he was told he was going to meet an ‘important gentleman and have a medical’ when he stayed at Cambridge House.

He had only arrived at the hostel two days prior, after an argument with his foster family during the 1960s, when he was taken to what was called ‘the quiet room’, a room he says was on the right-hand side of the front door to the former hostel.

He recalled: “All I know is what he did to me, which were really -- he asked me where I came from, and I explained to him where I come from. He'd just been asking, and, ‘I came here with Mr Evans’, and that, asking me questions, and then he says, ‘I just want to check you to see if you've got any nits or any -- you know, that you have washed yourself properly’, or something like along them lines, or what do you call – ‘or check your feet’. So he said, "I want to you to take your pants off", so I took my pants off, my underpants, and my T-shirt, and I stood there with no clothes on.”

He then recounted how Smith allegedly ‘ran his hands through his hair’ and stroked his back and his arms before rubbing the sides of his body and groping his genitals.

A day later, the man – then aged sixteen – attempted to return home where he was then returned to Cambridge House.

‘A1’ told the IICSA how he was later shouted at by Smith before telling him: "You're not touching me. If you touch me, I'm going out into the street and I'm going to yell what you're doing to me."

After he left Cambridge House, ‘A1’ then married in 1969. Unbeknownst to him, discovered Smith was a family friend of his fiancée and in-laws, who had invited him to the wedding. The witness said this made him angry, “But I couldn't say anything.”

Smith later helped the couple secure a council house in Rochdale, the inquiry heard.

‘A1’ later formally made a statement about Smith, and told his wife and inlaws about the alleged abuse.

He said: “That didn't go down too well. They couldn't believe it, because they were obviously supporters of Cyril Smith. Obviously, their daughter's married to me. I had to explain to them that I'd been interfered with or abused, or whatever you want to call it, and I'm willing to make a public statement to the police.”

Smith then allegedly visited the man with an accomplice, and asked ‘A1’ to retract his statement.

He continued: “He says, ‘It's going to cause me a lot of problems’, and I said, ‘No’. I said, ‘What happened to me is the truth. I told it how it was, and that's it’.”

The hearings continue.

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