Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Historical child abuse

The long-awaited inquiry into sexual abuse of children in Rochdale in the last century has got under way. One wonders why the official announcement goes out of its way to name Sir Cyril Smith alone as an exploiter of Knowl View special school. Smith could not have acted alone and indeed earlier reports (which unfortunately have dropped off the Google search time-frame) named the fellow-councillors who joined him in providing themselves a facility in which their sexual predilections could have free rein. The very fact that Rochdale council resisted an inquiry for so long is implicit testimony that more than one councillor (which Smith was when the only abuse we can be sure he committed) was involved. One trusts that the inquiry names and shames those other councillors, even though they are probably now all dead, like Smith.

That abuse, detailed by Private Eye when Smith was still alive and never challenged in the courts, was mild by comparison with some of the more lurid allegations which have been made since Smith's death. What is more serious is the cover-up which followed.

The cover-up extended to procuring a knighthood for Cyril Smith in one of Margaret Thatcher's lists. Jimmy Savile was another who benefited the same way. Both were made less touchable thereby. Perhaps there should be an inquiry into how major honours were awarded under Thatcher.

In the case of both Savile and Smith, the abuse could have been stopped at an early stage. Other people knew about it (rather more about Savile's than Smith's) but chose to remain silent.

Edward Heath is different. Nobody accused him of abuse in his lifetime. His close friends and his godchildren were genuinely shocked when the latest accusations surfaced. In spite of denials by Thames Valley police, I believe they are false, generated by a "fishing-trip". There are obvious reasons for Edward Heath's name to be blackened at the present time.

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