Liberal Democrats suspend Lord Steel after Cyril Smith comments

Date published: 15 March 2019

The Liberal Democrats have suspended former leader Lord Steel over comments he made to an inquiry about former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith.

Speaking under oath at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Wednesday (13 March), Lord Steel said he discussed the allegations with Smith in 1979 after reading an article in Private Eye, claiming Smith had abused boys at Rochdale’s Cambridge House Hostel when he was a Labour MP.

Speaking on social media, deputy leader Jo Swinson said: “The party has rightly begun a disciplinary investigation into Lord Steel following his revelations.

“Clearly this is incredibly serious and he should be suspended while this takes place.”

She later posted that the decision to suspend Lord Steel was 'absolutely right'.

Lord Steel told the Inquiry he did not discuss the allegations with anyone else and did not see a need to seek advice before admitting he nominated the politician for a knighthood.

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

In 2018, Lord Steel described the child sex abuse allegations against Smith as “tittle tattle” which he said during the inquiry referred to to former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk’s book about Smith, ‘Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith’, co-authored with Matthew Baker.

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