Cyril Smith could have borough’s highest honour posthumously removed

Date published: 11 October 2018

Cyril Smith could have the borough’s highest honour posthumously removed, 26 years after he was bestowed the accolade.

Councillors are set to vote next week on whether the freedom of the borough awarded to the late Smith on 23 November 1992 can be withdrawn.

The move follows a meeting with a survivor of Smith’s abuse.

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.

Smith’s abuse was the subject of an independent inquiry last year, which saw a number of former pupils at Cambridge House Hostel and Knowl View residential school, where Smith was a governor, come forward about abuse they had suffered at Smith’s hands.

The report released by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on 12 April 2018 highlighted significant failures between 1960 and 1996 of leadership and management and how council officers and school staff from the time covered by the report had failed to protect children.

The report, to be presented at next week’s full council meeting, states: “In the intervening years and before, there was considerable local disquiet about the way in which Cyril Smith behaved towards children and young people at Cambridge House and elsewhere.

“We now know that had this happened today, he would have been prosecuted and most likely convicted of serious criminal offences.”

Councillors are due to vote on a report at the next full council meeting at Rochdale town hall at 6.15pm on Wednesday 17 October. 

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