Saturday, 19 April 2014

Book Reviews & Networking

THE media is thoroughly imbricated in these elite networks. Journalists, politicians and lobbyists inhabit the same world and mix at the same parties, while PR companies groom, collude with and recruit journalists, turning hacks into flacks with depressing regularity. Businesses use the media to reach policymakers, place stories, conscript third-party advocates and noisily reframe debates on their terms. The use of third-party front-groups is rife: corporations fund academics, scientists, protesters, think tanks, charities, supportive allies, professional bodies, fake institutes, campaign groups – anyone that will take the money and say the right things. Where necessary, companies keep a low profile, suppressing damaging stories while lobbying in private; “for every story fed to the media,” studies find, “there is one being carefully kept out.” Often PR firms work alongside corporate lawyers, using the threat of litigation to snuff out damaging stories quickly and discreetly, while applying extra pressure through “astroturf” (fake grassroots) campaigns on Twitter or via email. The internet poses challenges, but PR firms are moving in, monitoring opponents and even offering a round-the-clock service whitewashing Wikipedia and Google on clients’ behalf.
The result is a well-oiled machine, constantly at work getting monied interests what they want. “We’re in it for money” lobbyist Peter Gummer (Lord Chadlington) admits – and lobbying can prove a very lucrative investment indeed. One study estimates a return of $90bn on an initial spend of $3.5bn; another of between $6 and $21 per dollar spent; another still of $100. “It seems remarkable,” the Economist notes, “that companies would do anything but lobby”. 
From Trevor Hoyle

Trade Councils: blacklist, fracking & Cyril Smith

GREATER Manchester Association of Trade Union Councils today discussed the anti-fracking campaign in Salford,  the Park Cakes dispute in Oldham, the problems of care-workers in Rochdale and Doncaster, blacklisting in the local building trade, and the antics of Cyril Smith in Rochdale.

Plans are taking place for the production of a booklet on the history of blacklisting and its special significance to the Greater Manchester area where the campaign was first initiated in 2003.  Later this year there are expected to be cases of blacklisted workers being taken to the Court, and the proposed forthcoming publication or publications will be of much interest.  Also, the book launches in Manchester and Rochdale of  'Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith' by Simon Danzcuk MP and Matthew Baker, were reported as being successful this week with over 60 copies sold at the Rochdale event. 

There was much discussion of the behaviour of the police at the ant-fracking protest at Barton Moss in Swinton, Salford.  One Salford delegate having asked the Police Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, if the tactical police unit was 'fit for purpose'?  She had been told by Mr Lloyd:  'It's at the top of my list of priorities!'.

Meanwhile, a report in the minutes of Manchester TUC noted there had been  'On going correspondence between Manchester Trade Union Council and Manchester City Council on Bedroom Tax, Blacklisting and social housing provision.   Over the blacklist correspondence has been received that umpteen companies that had previously been involved in the blacklisting of trade unionists had written to the City Council to reassure everyone that they no-longer operated any blacklists.

Well, there's a surprise! 

Dangerous Driving & George Tapp case

THE police case against the man who drove into the picket of Manchester electricians outside the Manchester City ground in May last year, is set to take place on the 18th, June 2014.  It will be held at Manchester Crown Court.  A man has been charged with dangerous driving.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Construction worker dies as building collapses!

1. Blacklisting safety reps costs lives

Yesterday 14th April 2014, Dainius Rupsys from Lithuania aged 33 died after a floor collapse at the former US naval building in Grosvenor Square, At least one other person has been treated for minor injuries. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the man fell after a floor in the six-storey building gave way. A spokesman from the London Fire Brigade said a mini-digger on the second floor fell to the floor below, as did the two workmen. This is an appalling situation when this is the forth death in London in just a few weeks. 

Silent Vigil (flyer attached)
Thursday 17th April 2014
Grosevenor Square 

Don't forget International Workers Memorial Day 28th April 
There will be events across the country. 
Construction Safety Campaign will hand in a letter to the Qatar Embassy protesting the deaths and injuries on Qatar building sites, as it prepares for World Cup, and demanding workers' rights.
Assemble 8.30 am -9am, 1 Audley Street, W1K 1NB

Court orders ICO to give workers' personal details to blacklisting firms!

 We are publishing below the latest briefing from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG).

"High Court latest:

The blacklisting High Court claim was meant to be in court this week but because of the early retirement of the judge on the case it was postponed. We expect to be back in court in June - July. 

In another appalling twist it has been revealed that the ICO has handed over the complete list of names, addresses and national insurance numbers directly to the blacklisting firms after a court order was issued - giving them a ready made blacklist database that was supposedly going to be put out of business.  

GMB is currently taking out a High Court injunction to find out what this secret court order is all about. GMB statement reads:

"Both Pinsents Masons (firms lawyers) and the ICO have refused to give us a copy of the order claiming it is bound a practise direction of secrecy. Yesterday our lawyers attended the High Court, and Master Leslie told our lawyers that we should be allowed to see the order. Overnight the administration office of the court has refused to give us the order on the basis that it is a secret order. We have been told that the order restrict the persons or classes of persons who may obtain a copy of the order."

We didn't think this scandal could get any more murkier - it now appears that a government department has handed the blacklisting firms the most up to date contacts details of all the workers they blacklisted. And all done in secret. Literally lost for words. 

3. Compensation Scheme latest

The blacklisting firms have let it slip that they intend to unilaterally launch their own compensation scheme without the support of the unions, Blacklist Support Group or Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors. Since they first announced their scheme last year the firms have completely failed to grasp the fact that their evil conspiracy has actually affected peoples lives. They treat us now with the exact same disdain they treated us when they denied us work. 

Under the firms blacklist compensation scheme, the vast majority of workers would be entitled to £3,000 and not a single blacklisted worker will be offered a job. This is an insult to the workers whose lives they have ruined over decades. 

Blacklisting is a major human rights conspiracy that is likely to result in the firms being banned from future publicly funded contracts until such time that they come clean. If Labour wins the Election, they will be facing a big hit on their profits. But the firms, their expensive lawyers and spin doctors still think they have done nothing wrong. It is the business ethics of Don Corleone. Until they wise up, their misnamed compensation scheme is a non-starter. If the firms intend to unilaterally launch their ten bob scheme it will be without the endorsement of the Blacklist Support Group and the blacklisted workers that we represent. Any compensation scheme agreed solely by the perpetrators is not justice. BSG suggest that everyone avoids this PR stunt like the plague. 

BSG slogan is: "No talks about us - without us" 

4. Blacklist Support Group met with Christian Khan solicitors again last week after we were contacted by Operation Herne - the police investigation into undercover police spying on the Lawrence family and other activists. BSG reiterate our position that we will have nothing to do with the police investigation themselves - the interim Herne report is a total whitewash and exonerates the police of every single allegation made against them in relation to blacklisting and is in complete opposition to the information that has already been disclosed to the BSG and our lawyers by the IPCC and the ICO. 

5. Call for public Inquiry continues
The only way to get this scandal fully exposed is by a public inquiry - BSG urge all our supporters to raise the issue within their networks and with their MPs. 

6. Art against Blacklisting
BSG Artist in Residence, Thatch Mi-ous has set up a FB page for artists using blacklisting as an inspiration - any artist whether a graphic artist, painter, photographer or musician is welcome to post their work on the page. (an example attached) 

7. Agency workers walk outs
Last two weeks have seen a number of walk outs and disputes on building sites by agency workers demanding to be taken on the cards after the recent tax changes. 

8. Blacklisting is a global phenomenon 
International Union Rights magazine - Special Edition on blacklisting out now
Global union magazine read by unions, lawyers & academics - article includes blacklisting articles from Australia, Colombia, Turkey, France, the North Sea and the UK. 

Mexican migrant workers blacklisted by Canadian authorities when they joined a union:

9. Caroline Murphy - head of Murphys resignation - statement on blacklisting 

Have a good break everyone 
Keep the faith



Sins of Sir Cyril Smith!

as told in the June 2013 issue of NorthernVoices No.14: 

Printed version of Northern Voices 14 still available.

I, Cyril Smith, was born illegitimate and into poverty in Rochdale, in 1928. By my early thirties I had, via a combination of hard work and political cunning, established myself as a significant figure on the town council. It was from this base that I embarked on a series of sexual assaults on young men, over at least 30 years, in a variety of public institutions.  I used political guile and bullying to cover my tracks and evade prosecution for my crimes, and died with my public reputation largely unsullied in 2010.  
There are many parallels with the Jimmy Savile who came from Leeds. We were both ‘larger than life’ northerners with unusually strong attachments to our mothers, who were ‘too busy’ to have time for an established relationship with an adult companion, or lover.  But beneath these superficial similarities there are darker likenesses:   our attraction to pubescent youngsters; preying on those in ‘care’ institutions, and our ability to duck and dive around institutions in order to satisfy our illicit sexual desires, and abuse of the very disadvantaged youngsters we publicly professed to support.  
One significant difference between us, however, is that once ‘discovered’ in the autumn of 2012, the Savile affair led to the establishment of five separate enquiries – most notably ‘Operation Yewtree’ - to determine how the man had been able to escape prosecution for over half a century.  In my case, no such enquiry has been established.  My crimes fleetingly passed through the gaze of the press in November and December last year and have now disappeared from view, with my accomplices and protectors largely unsullied.  
Savile's crimes are now publicly laid bare; institutional failures have been identified and remedial action taken to ensure similar failings cannot recur. This has not happened in the my case:  failing bodies remain unaccountable, covers-up remain in place, negligent authorities and persons have yet to be held fully responsible for their shortcomings.  Their inactions almost certainly led to further undetected abuse and suffering and yet there has been no public apology and rectification for the incompetence/negligence and the abuses of public power that enables the weak to be preyed upon.  
What follows is a record of my exploits over my years in public life:  
This article attempts to address the Smith vacuum.The chronology below identifies Smith’s known crimes, and exposing those guilty of covering up, or preventing, the prosecution of them.  
1952:  I became Rochdale’s youngest councillor, aged 23. I became a member of the education committee, on which he sat until the mid 1970’s (chairman 1966 – 1971).  
1962:  I was by now a senior figure on Rochdale Council.   I persuaded the local Rotary Club and Round Table to co-fund the establishment of a hostel for boys and young men in the town – Cambridge House. I was supported in this by the townfs senior probation officer, and the project received a grant from the local authority.  The hostel accommodated up to 20 young males; most of whom were apprentices from a local engineering works.Smith left these boys alone.  A smaller number were teenagers who had troubled backgrounds, for whom the hostel offered a refuge, often from domestic abuse or neglect.  I, systematically, physically and sexually abused these younger boys, under the guise of administering corporal punishments and undertaking medicals.  
1964:  At the AGM of the Cambridge House  hostel, I announced:
‘We earnestly hope that we have found for the boys a home in which they can find the right moral and character-building influence'.  
1969   Lyndon Price, a relatively junior social worker with Rochdale Council reported claims that I was abusing young men at Cambridge House to the Rochdale police (the borough had its own force at the time).  I was told by Pat Ross, the then Chief Constable, that ‘it has been decided’ not to prosecute. I was a powerful politician on a council that comprised one third of the then local controlling committee of the police (the “Watch Committee”). 
(Rochdale Observer 10 February 2013).  Price later progressed to be Rochdale’s Director of Social Services, but never enjoyed good professional relations with Smith, after this police report. Cambridge House closed later that year, as funds ran out and the council refused an application for an increased grant, following Price and colleagues’ concerns about the welfare of the residents of the hostel.
1970   Cyril Smith became Mayor of Rochdale and MBE (for services to the community).  
1971   Current Rossendale Councillor, Ronald Allan Neil, complained to the Rochdale police that he had been physically assaulted by Smith in Cambridge House in 1964, when aged 11.  Nothing happened as a result: ‘everyone made the same comment that (he) was a very important, powerful man’, he told the BBC on 15 November 2012.  
1972   A former resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the authorities, while he was in Risley Remand Home, of my sexual abuse of Cambridge House residents.  This provoked a police enquiry into my activities there.  The enquiry lasted six months, taking evidence from a large number of witnesses, including eight former Cambridge House residents, whocomplained of being victims of physical and sexual abuse by me, together with seniorlocal politicians and council officials.  
At this time, I was an Alderman and chairman of the local education committee.  Although he had recently defected from the labour party to join the liberals (and become their candidate at the 1970 election), he called upon friend and sitting Labour MP, Jack McCann, to intervene in the inquiry and have it stopped.  McCann was a Labour whip, in the House of Commons, and politically close to the then Home Secretary, Jim Callaghan. McCann said he contacted the then Lancashire Chief Constable William Palfrey.  
The Rochdale-based policeman who conducted the enquiry, Derek Wheater, complained that his attempts to bring Smith to justice had been blocked at every turn by local politicians. (Manchester Evening News 29 November 2012).  As a result, a Whitefield-based policeman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was drafted in to help.  He told the Evening News that Smith had admitted spanking boys and felt that he would have pleaded guilty had he been brought to trial.He told the Evening News that Smith was clearly frightened and claimed felt that a trial would kill my mother. 
The Lancashire police felt there was a case to answer and the 80-page report was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, with recommendations for prosecution. The DPP's office has spent much of the period between then and 2012, when asked, refusing to confirm or deny whether they had received such a report. It was, however, turned around, by the then DPP, Sir Norman Skelhorn, in the remarkably quick period of eight days, marked  'No further action'. Not in the public interesth on 19 March 1970 (Guardian 16 November 2012).According to the Daily Mail, 24 November 2012, within that short period, the DPP's office was advised by a prominent external barrister that there were grounds for prosecution.
Skelhorn, himself, was an interesting and accident-prone DPP. In the course of his 12 year tenure, he gave immunity from prosecution to Britain's first super-grass, Bertie Small, in a decision the Law Lords later called a less than unholy deal While addressing the Harvard Law Society he made the rather strange statement for a law officer that when dealing with Irish terrorists any methods were justified; and he was duped by the then- apartheid security forces of South Africa into prosecuting liberal activist and later labour cabinet minister, Peter Hain, for holding up a branch of Barclays bank.  
It isn’t clear whether Skelhorn’s suspect judgment in the Smith case came about after having been leant on by politicians to drop the case or not. This was not an uncommon practice in the 1970’s, as former labour Attorney General, Sam Silkin, told the Daily Mirror on 29 September 1979.  
1969:   While council officials and senior local politicians knew of allegations of abuse by Smith to young men, Rochdale Council established Knowl View school, under Smith’s leadership, as chairman of the education committee. Knowl View was a residential school for up to 48 emotionally and behaviourally disturbed boys, and was to be the centre of allegations of sexual abuse for its 25 years of existence.Smith was a governor of the school for much of this time. Precisely how long is difficult to establish, as a Freedom of Information inquiry to Rochdale Council, from Chris Paul, discovered in 2009. He wished to know precisely this, and the council refused to provide an answer over a period of seven months, involving 11 pieces of correspondence.  
June 1970 Smith was defeated, by McCann, in general election, as MP for Rochdale.  
1970 Michael Steed became a 12-year old resident of Knowl View, where he stayed for five years. He later became a senior Roman Catholic cleric and confident to Tony Blair. In his autobiography Nobodyfs Child, published in 2008, he made several very explicit references to the sexual abuse of boys at Knowl View, and the fact that some of them were ensnared in a rent boy racket. Only one conviction ever transpired, of former teacher David Higgins, in 2002, some 30 years after his crimes there.  
October 1972:   Smith elected in by-election, MP for Rochdale for the first time, following death of McCann. 
'The early 1970’s' A referral to the DPP relating to Smith 'over an allegation or allegations relating to indecent obscene publications'. Evidence of this emerged in a statement by the CPS on 6 December 2012. In what was an unintended, heavily ironic statement the CPS said that they were making public this referral 'in the interests of openness and transparency'. With barely a gasp for breath the office maintained 'there are no files in our possession that relate to (this)...we are therefore unable to determine ... if any action was taken.'  
February 1974:   Inconclusive result to general election.Both conservative and labour parties in discussions with liberals over forming possible coalition/pact.  A copy of the Smith child abuse file was taken by Special Branch officers to London, as part of security clearance of any MPs likely to be involved in the formation of the new government, and not returned to Preston. The later leader of the liberal party, David Steel, denied knowledge of this in January2013 Private Eye.  
1976 Paul Foulston, detective constable from Thames Valley police, while working on a routine murder investigation, went to a remand centre to interview a suspect (who was later eliminated from enquiries) when he was intercepted by two special branch officers, who told him not to proceed with his interview as they were 'working on an enquiry relating to an MP'. Foulston ignored their instruction and interviewed the young man, who told him in graphic detail how Smith preferred sex with young men and discarded them when their physiology changed. 'It was totally revolting', Foulston told the Guardian on 16 November 2012, 'he must have mentioned it to the prison authorities, and they must have told special branch.'  
1976:  Liberal party leader, Jeremy Thorpe is embroiled in a bizarre story regarding a jilted gay lover, a shot dog and attempted murder.Thorpe was hounded by the press and Smith at the time was his chief whip.He was less than supportive to Thorpe, despite his own past, and provided the press with unhelpful gossip about Thorpe.  
1977: By now Steel was leader of the liberal party and there were renewed discussion between the labour government and the liberals over the formation of a mutual assistance pact. Lancashire special branch officer, Tony Robinson, received a call from MI5, asking him to send a copy of their Smith file to London, because, according to Robinson he “was being investigated for a position at the top table”. (Manchester Evening News 29 November 2012). David Steel denied all knowledge of this, to Private Eye in January 2013.
1977 Smith’s ghosted autobiography, Big Cyril, inexplicably, mentions none of the above.  
1978/79:  Rochdale’s Alternative Paper (RAP), a small community magazine in the town decided to investigate what lay behind the rumours of the “Smith story” that had circulated in political circles in the town for a decade. In the course of the six month investigation, the paper interviewed more than 30 people, including seven former residents of Cambridge House, senior local politicians and police officers and council officials, all on an “off the record” basis, about my activities at the hostel.  
Having had every word of the story they published libel-read by three independent sets of lawyers, each on a pro-bono basis, RAP published a 2,000 word account of Smith’s sexual and physical abuse of teenage boys at Cambridge House. This included quotes from some of the victims – anonymously- taken from the affidavits they had sworn, for the paper. The magazine had sought a response from Smith prior to publication, but he offered none. It sought the views of the then leader of the liberal party, David Steel, to the article, and published the answer they received from his press secretary:  'It is not a very friendly gesture, publishing that.All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.'  
Smith slapped a gagging writ on the magazine, which he never pursued. Almost all major news organisations in the country purchased copies of the magazine, but Smith threatened all who approached him about the story with libel.  
Private Eye was the only national publication to cover, and repeat the allegation (Eye 454). Smith took no action. He increased his majority in the general election a week after the RAP story appeared, and the matter faded away from the public view.  
1979:  Chris Marshall, an eight-year old resident at Knowl View was forced to perform a sex act on me (Independent 28 November 2012).  
1980:  Smith took a 16 year-old youth, with an unhappy family background, under his wing and groomed him.The young man was a young liberal and Smith encouraged his political activity, impressed him with his contacts and implied that he could help the boy further his political career.He also began to sexually molest the youngster, including on one occasion in his office in parliament, while senior politicians, including then leader of the labour party, Michael Foot passed by on the other side of the closed door. In the course of the abusive relationship, Smith bragged to the young man that he had evaded conviction over the Cambridge House assaults, which the man took to imply that it would be a waste of his time if ever he complained about Smith. (Guardian 30 November 2012). The abuse was not reported, or acted upon, at the time, although the man in question, now a Greater Manchester businessman with four children, has now given statements about it to the Greater Manchester police and Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk.  
Dr Alison Fraser, child psychologist at Rochdale’s Birch Hill hospital raised concerns of “inappropriate sexual behaviour” at Knowl View school, and found it difficult to believe that staff there were not aware of it.
1988:  Smith was knighted for political services. Always a member of the awkward, but vain, squad, his nomination by liberal leader David Steel, ensured that he did not rock the boat during the delicate merger talkers between the liberal and social democrat parties, that led to the creation of today’s liberal democrat party.
The Political Honours Scrutiny Committee was established following corrupt practices by Lloyd George in relation to the award of “political” honours, in the 1920s. Its explicit purpose is to ensure that they are only awarded to fit and proper people, after an appropriate investigation. Serious questions must be laid at their door.  Did they conduct an inquiry into Smith, before his knighthood was awarded? If so, did it not uncover the various police complaints and security service investigations about the man? If it did, how were they still satisfied that he was a fit and proper person to receive a knighthood? Etc.  
September 1990:  An adult male intruder had sexual contact with a number of boys at Knowl View school, and their cries for help went unheard. One pupil claimed to have been raped and another forced to perform oral sex. (Independent 10 September 1995).
1991:  Phil Sheppard, a Rochdale council HIV worker, reported concerns of male prostitution at Knowl View school to the education authorities and was told to stop circulating his report on the matter. (Independent 11 September 1993).
1992:  Rochdale’s director of education, Diana Cavanagh, conducted an inquiry into Knowl View. Her report included the redacted name of an adult implicated. No prosecution followed.
1992 Smith retired as MP and was given Freedom of the Borough of Rochdale
1993 Rochdale liberal councillor, John Heyworth, was convicted of indecently assaulting a 14-year old girl. He refused to resign from the council’s children’s sub- committee, and Smith publicly defended his right to remain on it (Eye 817).
1994 Martin Digan, head of care at Knowl View, became suspicious when he established that Smith had keys made, giving him 24-hour access to the school (as he had done previously at Cambridge House and as Savile had done in a number of institutions). Digan handed a dossier alleging sexual abuse of about a quarter of the school’s residents to education and police officials. No apparent action was taken, although Dignan was made redundant the following year.
1995 Knowl View school partially burned down in a fire apparently caused by some of the pupils (Seed’s Nobody’s Child), and school finally closed shortly afterwards.
1998 During the course of a police investigation into allegations of child sex abuse in a home in Wales, a Cambridge House victim rang a helpline number and complained once again of his treatment at the hands of Smith, at Cambridge House,in the 1960s. The police referred the matter to the CPS. They took no action, despite the fact that one of their records of the referral, or the outcome to it. They did not, however, say that the DPP does not have any such records.
“1980’s”  According to the Independent on Sunday (27 January 2013), two boys, under the age of 16 identified Smith as a user of rent boys at the Elm Guest House, in Barnes, London.  The boys were in local authority care. Detectives, in 2013, were re-examining what they believe their lawyers said there was a case for a prosecution, on the grounds that there was nothing new in the complaint and that Smith had been told in 1970 that he would not be prosecuted.
1999 Police referred another file to the CPS about Smith’s behaviour at Cambridge House, this time including statements of two new witnesses and victims. Despite the fact that this clearly was new evidence, the CPS once more refused to act. Serious questions must be asked about the efficacy of this decision.  Was it negligence, incompetence, or continued evidence of a cover up?
The revelations about the 1998 and 1999 police references to the CPS emerged from a rapidly released statement in November last year. The Manchester Evening News noted ‘dug out damning evidence of abuse as well as testimony from officers recommending prosecutions.’ (28 November 2012). 
2002 Only known prosecution for any of the abuse, outlined above, when former Knowl View teacher, David Higgins jailed for 12 month, on 11 counts of sexual abuse of boys at Knowl View, in the 1970s. 
September 2010 Smith died.  
November 2012:  Following revelations in the Savile scandal, Private Eye republished details of the 1979 Cambridge House story. Some of the hostel’s victims spoke to Paul Waugh, of,  publicly for the first time.  Barry Fitton repeated, on the record, almost verbatim, what he told RAP in 1979. Eddie Sharrock, whom RAP had identified, but not contacted in 1979, spoke out for the first time, about abuse in the home. Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk raised the issue in  Parliament. New witnesses emerged, statements were made by Greater Manchester police and the CPS, attempting to explain past deficiencies.  
Sources close to the current Greater Manchester Police inquiry ... said that the CPS statement had been released as a face-saving exercise because of the intense pressure from former detectives who worked on the case ... (they) had.  But serious questions remain – to a number of major public institutions - that this article has sought to contextualise and pose.
Most culpable of all is Rochdale Council. Although Smith had been a senior member, they ignored rumours and accusations of his conduct at both Cambridge House hostel and Knowl View school for over 40 years, during which time, they gave him the freedom of the borough. They are still dragging their feet over child abuse.  In December 2012 Ofsted described their child protection services as being “troubled” and “inadequate”, and a month later Simon Danczuk hit out at their dithering over the publication of a report concerning the child-sex grooming activities in the borough, which resulted in eight convictions in June 2012. (Community Care, 30 January 2013).
Next, the Director of Public Prosecutions. Their office has evaded questions on Smith’s activities for over 30 years.  They have failed to give an adequate explanation of what lay behind the decision not to prosecute in 1970, nor have they accounted for their inability to deal with the Cambridge House allegations in 1998 and 1999, despite the fact that new evidence had been submitted to them. They have rather pathetically shielded behind the CPS in failing to explain why they did not act against the obscene publications and bribery allegations brought against Smith in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Political Honours Scrutiny Committee has questions to ask about its lack of scrutiny over the award of a knighthood to Smith in 1988. 
Both the Labour Party and Liberal Party have questions to answer about attempted covers-up of Smiths crimes, and turning a blind eye to them for political advantage.
Both the Lancashire and Greater Manchester police, together with the independent press emerge with some credit, over these 40 plus years.  The police have been dogged in their enquiries and pursuit of Smith, on at least five occasions.  On each one, interventions from above, or from the DPP’s office has prevented prosecution.  It has been the efforts of the minority press: RAP, Private Eye and PoliticsHome, together with a small north-west magazine, Northern Voices that has kept this story alive for 40 years.
Smith is dead and cannot be prosecuted, but his victims deserve public apologies from the authorities who ignored his abuses. Their abuse will continue to be ridiculed and marginalised by national and local political establishments for as long as Smith remains a knight of the realm, and a freeman of Rochdale.

Cyril Smith: Our Part in His Downfall!

As today Simon Danczuk launches his book at Danczuk's Deli
on the Walk in Rochdale, John Walker, the former editor
of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), below
accesses how in November 2012, Northern Voices finally helped
to bring the Cyril Smith story out into the public domain:
NOW revelations about the Cyril Smith child sex-abuse case have emerged on almost a daily basis from when the issue was re-aired in November last year (2012).  So much so, that many people may now be switching off, feeling that they have heard enough, and that they've already concluded that he was a no good fat old paedo – end of story. 

For me, however, there are two key long term lessons to be leard, and Northern Voices and its principles are central to both of them.  Firstly, there is the constant need to be vigilant about the abuses of power, and the need for them to be exposed; and secondly the immense importance of the the continued existence of a genuinely free, independent, and fearless local and radical press.

I won't rehearch the many Smith related tales to have emerged recently; but most of them concern the abuse of power and bullying by those in authority of vulnerable people.  As I have argued before in Northern Voices, the most despicable thing about Smith's treatment of his victims was not so much that he molested young boys, but the way he chose his victims, and the abuse of authority he exercised in his self-gratification.

So, Smith paraded himself as a man of the people and defender of the downtrodden.  But it was the very downtrodden that he chose to abuse; boys who were vulnerable because of their status, as residents of children's homes.  He compounded that disadvantage by his sexual molestation of them and added insult to injury by threatening them, if they revealed what he'd been up to.  With the taunt that nobody would believe their word against that of an important person like him.

Rather than defend the disadvantaged, he increased their problems and reduced their self esteem by his actions towards them.  He used his power and authoryty to bully others into preventing enquires into his behaviour, and so escaped, time and again, to continue to perpetrate his abuse.  It was cant hypocrisy at its worst....
This bullying included the use of court injunctions, threats of libel action, arm twisting of law officers, leaning on MPs, public officials and other politically influential people, locally and nationally etc. to give him cover....  Thus, one of the many perversions to emerge from the murky Smith case, is that the paid upholders of civil society, themselves, became accessories to his abuse and continued disgraceful and criminal behaviour. 

How many victims would have been spared if initial enquires into Smith's activities had not been covered up by others in authority, who abetted Smith for their own suspect motives.  

Continued vigilance of the actions of the powerful is an important guarantor of long-term freedom; and Northern Voices' exercises this on a regular basis, much to the changrin of many of those subsequently exposed by its efforts. 
Which brings me to my second point.  The role of Northern Voices, as part of that long tradition of a radical press, that has never been afraid to call into question abuses of the powerful.   

I write as one of the editors of RAP (Rochdale's Alternative Paper), which first published the allegations about Smith's sexual abuse of the residents of Cambridge House hostel, in 1979.  We published well researched and impeccably sourced details of Smith's sexual abuse, cleared, word by word, by three different sets of lawers.  We were very aware of the legal and financial consequences of getting anything wrong, publishing as we did five days before Smith stood as the local candidate in the general election of that year.   

Smith moved into bullying mode and slapped a poorly worded injunction on us.  We were inundated with requests for copies of the paper from the national press.  There was not a serious national news outlet that didn't have a copy, and knew that we had compelling,legally cleared, material to back our claims.  Smith bullied them into inaction.  

All bar one [failed to follow up the story].  Private Eye alone, repeated the story in 1979.  And like Rap, invited Smith to sue.  He was silent on the matter, and ended up paying RAP's legal costs to get the injunction struck off, and dropped to matter, a couple of years later.

I would arue that there is not a serious national political journalist in Britain over the age of 50 who has not been aware of the Smith story for thirty years.  Yet none of them has ever taken the case up leaving it to RAP, Private Eye.. [and] Northern Voices... 

The recent re-emergence of the 1979 RAP story owes its appearance to Northern Voices.  This magazine kept the Smith story running and led to Westminster political blogger, and former Rochdale lad, Paul Waugh picking it up,last November.  Working with the ex-RAP editors Northern Voices was able to track down two of the 1960s Cambridge House victims, today, and introduce them to Paul, who ran the story on his national blog.  This provided grist for Simon Danczuk's mill, who revitalised the story by 'outing' Smith's antics in Parliament in November (2012).  
Excerpts from John Walker's lead story in
Northern Voices No.14 published in June 2013.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cyril Smith & Private Eye!

Something rotten in the state of Rochdale

from Private Eye:        


Knowl View School Abuse, Issue 1363

cyril smith.jpg
AFTER 35 years in which Fleet Street ignored the fact that Sir Cyril Smith MBE was a predatory paedophile, the Daily Mail decided on its front page last Saturday that there had been a “Monstrous Cover-up”.
Private Eye’s first detailed account of Smith’s crimes appeared as long ago as May 1979 (issue 454).  That more people have not taken the crimes seriously before now is saddest of all for Smith’s youngest victims - pupils at a residential school for boys in Rochdale called Knowl View who were abused by him in the 1980s and 1990s.

After decades of denials Rochdale council began to reassess Knowl View school in 2012 after Chris Marshall alleged that he was forced to perform a sex act with Smith on school property while another “well-dressed man” looked on.  More than a dozen former pupils are also identified as abuse victims of other men in internal council reports.  They too have never received justice.
In January Rochdale council appointed Andrew Warnock QC to appraise its supervising role in the school which was home to dozens of boys aged between eight and 16.  Warnock reports next month. A parallel investigation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now identified 11 suspects connected with the school.

Horrific reports

Victims can be forgiven for not feeling reassured. GMP has now been looking at Knowl View for 20 years and has secured but a single conviction.  Meanwhile Warnock’s review is confined to examining Knowl View’s history from “the late 1980s to the mid 1990s” which may mean vital truths about the preceding decades remain buried.
For example, Warnock will consider a series of horrific reports made by Phil Shepherd, a health worker who visited Knowl View in 1991, and a consultant clinical psychologist who investigated the school in 1992.  These reveal that “up to a third of the residential pupils have been involved at some stage in serious sexual incidents”.  They describe how boys in the senior dorm were sexually attacked over a period of two nights by a paedophile called Rodney Hilton in 1990.  And they reveal that pupils in their early teens were working as rent boys.

Kerb-crawling paedophiles

According to former pupils who have spoken to Private Eye, such problems began years earlier, however. For example, one former pupil alleges that Hilton abused and beat him on school property - specifically in the woods adjoining the grounds - in the early 1980s: a period outside Warnock’s remit.
Another former pupil, Michael Seed (the Franciscan friar who would later persuade Tony Blair into the Catholic faith), describes a “well-organised contingent of rent-boys, selling their bodies to kerb-crawling paedophile homosexuals” in his memoirs. He joined Knowl View in 1970.

While Warnock’s appraisal concerns events beginning in the late 80s, the real question is why problems were not addressed long before. For Knowl View’s earliest history is even darker – and Smith was not the only founder of the school to be suspected of child abuse.

From the earliest stages, Smith was assisted by a Conservative councillor called Harry Wild. In the late 1960s, Smith and Wild chaired Rochdale’s powerful education and children committees and started Knowl View together, delegating the power to appoint staff to the governing body on which they would later serve.

Operation European

Police investigations into Smith, which began in the mid-1960s and were shut down in 1970, identify Wild as his “close associate”.  The file police prepared in 1969 states:  “Councillor Harry Wild has been viewed with suspicion regarding his association with young men and boys at Rochdale.”  In the decades that followed, that suspicion only grew. By the 1990s, after Wild stood down from the council, he was targeted by Operation European, another Greater Manchester Police child abuse investigation.
In 2000, the Manchester Evening News reported the allegations after GMP’s chief constable intervened to prevent Wild’s appointment as high sheriff of Greater Manchester. Wild told the paper that his community work made him vulnerable to “mischievous claims” “Of course, one has to consider the type of boy at Knowl View - low-grade really.”  Just like Smith, he was never convicted and Wild died, aged 80, in 2001.

How much of this Warnock is prepared to acknowledge will be known next month; but even if he could examine the full length of the school’s life, some victims can never receive justice.  One council report confirmed that, aged 14, Ian Broomhead was raped by Rodney Hilton during the overnight intrusion into the senior dorm.  He fought back on the second night and continued to fight after he left Knowl View.

With the assistance of the school’s social worker, Martin Digan, and health worker Phil Shepherd, Broomhead began proceedings against Rochdale council. His case was reported by Louise Jury in the Independent. She obtained Broomhead’s only interview, anonymised on publication, in 1995.

‘Under the bedclothes’

“It was physical force,” he said of Hilton's attack.  “He threw me against the wall, threw me around the room. He threatened to kill me if I told anybody.”  Afterwards Broomhead lay in bed terrified, hearing other pupils screaming but no staff were on duty.  He raged against Hilton:  “If I saw him now I'd kill him”; against the school:   “Before I went there I had a life. I don't have one now"; and against Rochdale council:  “I want to go to the Black Box [a nickname for Rochdale's old municipal offices] and just blow the whole lot of them.”
By coincidence, Broomhead’s solicitors were Molesworths Bright Clegg, which had advised Cyril Smith when police originally investigated his abuses in the 1970s.  The senior partner at the firm, John Kay, had also known Smith since birth. Mark Walker, the junior who was passed Broomhead’s case, was never told by his client that he had also been abused by Cyril Smith while at Knowl View.
Broomhead did, however, admit it to AIDS worker Phil Shepherd:  “Ian told me that he was touched by Cyril Smith,” Shepherd told the Eye“He would go round putting his hands under the bedclothes when the lads were in bed at night. He was getting access. I said at the time that, if Cyril Smith was involved, then other councillors would be involved.”

‘Close to suicide’

At that time Rochdale council said the “necessary action” had been taken but the pupils in Broomhead’s era were horribly damaged.  Several interviewed for this article receive regular psychological treatment.  Many have criminal records.
“I’ve been close to suicide,” Ian Broomhead said in his interview with Louise Jury, “and I’m extremely lucky I haven't gone to prison.”  He died of a drug overdose ten months later. He was 20 years old.

Last week, the current leader of Rochdale council, Colin Lambert, pledged that he will “not stop until the truth is out”.  The sentiment is fine; but for Ian Broomhead is far too late.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Rochdale 'Institutionally Blind' to Sex Crimes?

asks Simon Danczuk M.P. 

'I began to wonder,' writes Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk in today's Daily Mail, 'if years of child abuse being covered up in Rochdale had normalised this crime,' and he asks:  'Had the constituency become institututionally blind?'

In an exclusive serialising of the forthcoming book 'Smile For The Camera' by Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker, to be published by Biteback on April 15th, £16.99, the Daily Mail today has devoted a leading article, five pages inside, and an editorial.  The Mail story reports:  'For four decades, the depraved 29st politician (Cyril Smith) was free to prey on vulnerable children as young as eight.' 
In an editorial entitled 'A moral scandal that shames liberal elite', the Daily Mail comments:  'TODAY the Mail begins serialising a profoundly disturbing book that should shake the conscience of Britain's liberal elite, while raising questions of huge topical relevance about moral corruption at the heart of politics and the State.'
This is of ongoing important today, because as Mr. Danczuk writes in his book:
'In May 2012, nine men were jailed for horrific abuse committed against teenage girls in the town (of Rochdale).'
We must wait to see what new comes out of the revelations in the book, but at present Mr. Danczuk and the Daily Mail are putting more flesh on the bone.  Most important will be how the cover-up of Smith's crimes was manipulated for so long, and why he was so successfully.  What part did MI5 play in hiding the evidence, and did Jack McCann, the Rochdale Labour MP in the 1960s, and friend of Cyril Smith, help him deal with the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)?  Was the Home Secretary contacted by Jack McCann?
These are all questions that are of interest to Northern Voices, which was in the forefront of putting this story into the public domain in the Autumn of 2012.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Britannia Waves the Rules




By Gareth Farr

Designed by Ashley Martin-Davis


The Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Tuesday 27 May – Saturday 7 June

Press Night: Wednesday 28 May at 7.30pm

* BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES plays in repertoire with the world premiere of THE LAST DAYS OF TROY by Simon Armitage

Bruntwood Prize winning play BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES by Gareth Farr receives its world premiere at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from Tuesday 27 May to Saturday 7 June.

A scream of protest at the state of the world, BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES is fast, furious and filled with rage.

It tells the story of Carl. He doesn’t fit in at home. He doesn’t fit in anywhere. He signs up for the army, seeing a chance to escape the grim reality of life in his hometown Blackpool. But it doesn’t matter where he runs to, or how hard or how fast, there are just too may battles for him to win them all. He comes home, not as a war hero, but as a changed man.

The play picked up a Judges Award in the 2011 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. Writer Gareth Farr said: “I want to grab the audience by the scruff of the neck, drag them through the journey and have them leave feeling something strong about the world they’ve just witnessed.”

The central role of Carl is played by talented young actor Dan Parr. His previous theatre credits include PAGES FROM MY SONGBOOK (The Alligator Club at The Studio, Royal Exchange), WANTED! ROBIN HOOD (Manchester Library Theatre Company), and DNA (The Lowry Theatre). Television credits include CASUALTY (BBC), THE CRIMSON FIELD (BBC), and THE VILLAGE (BBC). Film credits include: Halcyon Heights (Plug it In Productions).

Other parts are played by cast members from THE LAST DAYS OF TROY (which plays in repertoire with BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES). They include Clare Calbraith, Simon Harrison, Colin Tierney and Francesca Zoutewelle.

The production is directed by guest director Nick Bagnall – who is also directing THE LAST DAYS OF TROY. His previous credits include directing three HENRY VI plays at venues across the UK, including four open-air battlefield performances. Other work includes BETRAYAL (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE (Trafalgar Studios).

The production is designed by Ashley Martin-Davis and the creative team is completed by Chris Davey (lighting), Peter Rice (sound), Alex Baranowski (composer) and Kevin McCurdy (movement and fights).

BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES will play in repertoire with the world premiere of THE LAST DAYS OF TROY by acclaimed poet and novelist Simon Armitage which runs from Thursday 8 May to Saturday 7 June.

In this fusion of Homer’s ILIAD and Virgil’s AENEID, the Greeks are laying siege to the ancient city of Troy to try and win back their abducted queen Helen, reputedly the most beautiful woman in the world.

The cast includes Lily Cole, as Helen of Troy, in this visceral and heartfelt re-telling of the story of the Trojan War.

* A specially commissioned visual art installation – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, by Manchester artist Thomas O’Grady – will run in The Great Hall alongside BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES. Originally created for the Ostrale festival in Dresden last year, the piece is based the iconic Kurt Vonnegut novel. The installation is kindly sponsored by Blitz Communications.

PRESS NIGHT for BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES is on Wednesday 28 May at 7.30pm. For further information, images, or for interview / press review ticket requests, please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /

BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES - Listings Information

 The Royal Exchange Theatre presents


By Gareth Farr

Directed by Nick Bagnall

Designed by Ashley Martin-Davis

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Tuesday 27 May – Saturday 7 June, 2014

Evening Performance Times:

Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 May, 7.30pm

Monday 2 and Wednesday 4 June, 7.30pm

Saturday 7 June, 5.45pm

Matinee Performance Times: Tuesday 27 May, 2.30pm

Press Night: Wednesday 28 May, 7.30pm

Ticket Prices: £12 (Concessions Available)

Audio-described Performance: Saturday 7 June, 5.45pm

Captioned Performance: Saturday 7 June, 5.45pm

After-show Discussion Wednesday 4 June after 7.30pm performance

Box Office: 0161 833 9833.