Lord Steel reinstated by Liberal Democrats after suspension over comments regarding Cyril Smith abuse allegations

Date published: 17 May 2019

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Steel has been reinstated by the party after he was suspended over comments he made about former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith.

The Liberal Democrats suspended Lord Steel in March 2019 over comments he made to an inquiry about Smith, saying he “assumed” allegations of abuse were true.

Speaking under oath at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on 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.

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 former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk’s book about Smith, ‘Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith’, co-authored with Matthew Baker.

The Liberal Democrats have been contacted for comment.

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