Rochdale inquiry: alleged Cyril Smith victim ‘denied urgent medical care until politician had finished fondling him’

Date published: 12 October 2017

An alleged victim of the late Cyril Smith described how the politician ‘denied him urgent medical care for a ruptured appendix until he had finished fondling him’, an inquiry heard.

Known only as ‘A4’, the witness gave evidence of the alleged sexual abuse on the third day of the national inquiry via video link.

He explained: “I was in severe pain, vomiting and had a high temperature, and I asked to call the doctor, and she [Mrs Saille – one of the two house wardens] said, 'I will', and then Cyril Smith turned up. He sort of prodded me around and then started fondling me and said to Mrs Saille, 'there is nothing wrong with him'. Mrs Saille was in the room at that time. She saw this incident. He said, 'there's nothing wrong with him', but when he left the room, I was screaming. One of the boys came in, I think it was one of the Scottish lads came in, and they called an ambulance. I ended up at Rochdale Infirmary, and next thing I knew there was a priest there and my mother was there, I had a ruptured appendix.”

“Now, if I had have been left there, who knows what might have happened.”

A4 told the inquiry how he ‘often’ saw Smith at the hostel: “He was there quite - he was there a lot of times. He organised Christmas parties and all sorts of things, and he would bring people - it was a show case. He would bring visitors, God knows why, he would bring them around and show them around the house and say, 'look how good we are to these boys, you know, these poor unfortunate boys’. Of course, we were unfortunate, because we were under the thumb of Cyril Smith.”

The inquiry heard how on his first or second day at Cambridge House, 29-stone Smith cupped A4’s genitals ‘like he was checking for a hernia’ before stroking him.

He added: “You know, he was Cyril Smith, what I could do? I was 15-years-old, scared sh*tless.”

On a second occasion, A4 says he was subject to more abuse after he didn’t go to work, and Smith allegedly ‘wanted a medical again’.

He continued: “Then a spanking, obviously big, fat, flabby hands, bang, bang, bang. And if you ever saw those hands, they were like weapons. He made me pull my trousers down. Yes, he took my trousers down - sorry, he made me take my trousers down, yes. After, after he had spanked me, he started stroking me saying, 'there, there, it is all right', because I was crying, you know, he really hurt me.”

A4 told of how after he ran away from Cambridge House, after he ‘ended up back’ there, he was allegedly subject to ‘another medical examination, another fondling’.

The inquiry heard how Smith turned up at A4’s home out of the blue and made Cambridge House sound ‘brilliant’.

A4 continued: “I had only come across Cyril Smith when I was at the ‘open air school’, Brownhill School it's called now, when he visited the school years ago, and that was the only time I had come across Cyril Smith. Before that, I have no idea how he got to know about me or anything or who referred him to me or what.”

Another witness, known only as ‘A2’, told the inquiry of how Smith allegedly fondled him on three occasions at Cambridge House when he had called in to work sick.

The inquiry heard how A2 went to live at the hostel when he was nearly 17 to satisfy the grounds of a probation order following an incident between his father and the probation officer.

Brian Altman QC asked the witness: “He [Smith] just happened to turn up whenever anybody was off work? So, in other words, in those days, someone had to have informed him because he wouldn't have known otherwise.”

He then read out the statement from A2 which outlined how Smith allegedly told him to ‘drop his trousers and underpants’ before ‘fondling and parting his buttocks’.

A2 said in the statement: “I recall him putting his hands down my front, around my abdomen, but I can not remember if he actually touched my genitals. At the time, I did not discuss what had happened with anyone else from Cambridge House.”

Mr Altman asked: “What was it about Smith that lent itself to somebody like you in that position having that happen to you and not reporting it to anyone in authority? Why didn't you?”

A2 replied: “Well, it was partly the era at time. Teenagers were not as outspoken, plus Smith, himself, made himself as intimidating as possible. Not only did adults fear him, you know, children would fear him. It might seem odd describing a 17-year-old as a child, but you're talking about 1961/1962. It was a different era.”

Mr Altman then asked: “Apart from his physical bulk, what else was it about Smith that was intimidating?”

A2 responded saying Smith "had control more or less of the town of Rochdale" and "everyone in that town, if not afraid, certainly would not cross him".

A2, who briefly worked for Rochdale Council whilst he lived at Cambridge House, also told of how when he left the hostel, he did not want to work for the council any longer as he "felt it was better to move away from anywhere where Smith had influence".

Mr Altman added: “He was someone you said who virtually ran the council, and you were on the inside; is that what you felt? That he virtually ran the council?”

The alleged victim responded that "it was a common belief of everyone that was working in the local government".

Smith 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.

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