When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Former East Lancs mayor backs call for Sir Cyril Smith child abuse inquiry
Updated 11:24am Wednesday 16th April 2014 in News
A FORMER mayor who says he was beaten by Sir Cyril Smith is backing calls for a full public inquiry into allegations of child abuse.
Rossendale councillor Alan Neal said he lost two front teeth and needed stitches to a head wound after the politician ‘backhanded’ him when he was aged 11 at a children's hostel in the 1960s.
He said he was assaulted for refusing to eat a potted meat sandwich.
Coun Neal’s experiences, and those of others attending Cambridge House hostel and Knowl View residential home, have been recounted in a new book co-written by the current Rochdale Labour MP and former Blackburn with Darwen councillor Simon Danczuk, who grew up in Hapton.
In his book, Smile for the Camera: The double life of Cyril Smith, Mr Danczuk has questioned why three separate police investigations into abuse allegations concerning Smith failed to result in any charges being brought by prosecutors, amid claims of MI5 and Special Branch involvement in past inquiries.
MORE TOP STORIES:
Coun Neal, now 60, is involved in a civil action against Rochdale Council and Greater Manchester Police which is also questioning the role of the security services over the repeated failure to prosecute 29-stone Smith.
The revelations have rocked the Lib Dem party and piled pressure on leader Nick Clegg to carry out an internal investigation.
Mr Danczuk said: "The reason for writing the book is that it’s a story people needed to be told. Cyril Smith wrote his own history over a number of years which showed him in a positive light, but the reality is that he was, in many ways, a monster who went out of his way to abuse vulnerable boys.
"What we know is that Cyril Smith was a prolific abuser. The police were watching from the 1950s and the first recorded victim was in 1961.
“He then went on to abuse in every decade until his death."
Coun Alan Neal, whose full name is Ronald Alan Neal, had been placed in Cambridge House, a hostel for 'working boys' in Rochdale, in 1964.
He was part of a large family and his mother is said to have struggled to cope. The youngster had earned the nickname Runaway Ron because of his repeated attempts to flee.
Smith, who was a well-known figure at Cambridge House and had helped to establish the hostel, was called in to ‘help’.
Coun Neal said: “I was taken from a foster home in Outwood because I ran away. And people who ran away got taken to Cambridge House.
“I don’t eat meat and I was presented with a potted meat sandwich, which is basically congealed meat, and I had a reaction.
“It made me sick and because of the fact it was forced down my throat, it made me even more sick.
“This led to Smith hitting me - bear in mind I was only around four feet five inches and five stone - and ended up with me receiving stitches in a head wound and losing two teeth.
“Two years later I was fostered in Whitworth and the people I was living with had a copy of the local newspaper, with a picture of Smith and I said to them that this was the guy who left me needing stitches in the back of my head and losing two teeth.
“They said that they didn’t disbelieve me but that he was a very powerful man and we should just forget about it.”
Mr Danczuk, who was campaign manager for former Rossendale and Darwen MP Janet Anderson, added: "We know from speaking to Coun Neal that he was abused at Cambridge House. It was serious physical abuse against a minor. It is behaviour that is wholly unsuitable now and also then.
“That is no way to treat children. I can’t help but think it will have had a lasting impression on Alan.
“His knighthood needs to be removed posthumously so that institution like the press stop calling him Sir Cyril Smith. Secondly, I think we need a full public inquiry where witnesses are called and asked to give evidence under oath.
“It should not just be looking at Cyril Smith, but looking more widely at the cover-up and who hid it. There’s far too much denial from the Liberal Party at this moment in time.”
Mr Neal, a baker who has twice been Mayor of Whitworth and Rossendale's Millennium mayor, spoke out in November 2012 when Mr Danczuk named Smith as a serial child abuser in the House of Commons and is still adamant justice needs to be served for Smith’s victims.
He said: “What I am doing it for is justice as a number of his victims who are not here any longer. No-one has ever held their hands up and said ‘we are sorry, we got it wrong’. That would ease an awful lot of pain for people.
“It makes people extremely bitter because for the best part of 50 years everyone has told victims that they were telling lies whenever they said anything about this.
“Instead of protecting vulnerable people they took the word of someone who should have been charged over this - he was just a violent thug and a bully after all.”
Det Insp Caroline Ward, from Greater Manchester Police, has said that seven people have come forward to allege that they were abused by 11 individuals at Knowl View, where Smith was governors’ chairman.
An independent review into the running of Knowl View over the same period is also set to report back to Rochdale Council next month.
The Crown Prosecution Service has also previously acknowledged that Smith should have been charged with criminal offences when allegations first surfaced 40 years ago.
Lancashire Police presented the findings of an indecent assaults investigation relating to Smith and Cambridge House, covering Coun Neal’s time there, but it was dismissed by Norman Skelhorn, then Director of Public Prosecutions in 1970.
Comments are closed on this article.