Cyril Smith stripped of the freedom of borough

Date published: 18 October 2018

Cyril Smith has been posthumously stripped of the Freedom of Rochdale over his sickening catalogue of child abuse over three decades.

The honour was removed from the paedophile former MP by a unanimous vote at a full meeting of Rochdale Council following a complaint from one of Smith’s victims.

It had been bestowed on the 29-stone politician  in a town hall ceremony held in November 1992.

Last year’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse heard how the 29-stone politician had raped and abused boys at the town’s Knowl View special school in the 1980s.

And victims also told how he had also carried out abuse at Cambridge House Boys Hostel in the 1960s under the bizarre pretext of ‘medical examinations’.

The motion to remove the Freeman of the Borough accolade from Smith, who died in 2010, was moved by leader of the council Allen Brett.

Councillor Brett said: “I’m sure there’s not a person in this chamber who would not support this move to remove Cyril Smith’s Freedom of the Borough.

“It’s a shame we can’t just strip him of this honour without going through the technicalities.

“Contrary to recent reports you may have seen, we have listened very hard to what victims of abuse say to us, we are doing this tonight after meeting and listening to survivors of abuse.”

“This council has for a number of years run a bespoke service for survivors.”

Conservative group leader Ashley Dearnley seconded the motion.

He said: “It’s very sad the situation we find ourselves in that we have to strip him of this title he clearly did not deserve and does not deserve.

“We are making the correct decision in doing this and anything we can do to assist in any way the people that suffered, this council is aiming to do to the best of its abilities.”

Councillor Brett also read from an Ofsted report from earlier this year which praised the council’s ‘strong multi-agency response for children and adult survivors of sexual explotiation’.

The report said: “This service, developed with key partners to ensure an improved response to children at risk of exploitation in the borough, now delivers a range of work to identify, disrupt and prosecute offenders and protect children.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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