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Cyril Smith was a 29 stone gargantuan rampant paedophile who prowled the corridors of Cambridge House hostel and other children's homes in Rochdale, his home town. He did so to find young victims to satisfy his sexual needs. Fondling naked boys and spanking them were the favourite activities of this obese Liberal Democrat politician. If they objected he told them what he was doing was for their own good.

Over 35 years ago John Walker, a college lecturer in Rochdale, bravely exposed, after a 6 month investigation, the sordid activities of Smith in 'Rochdale's Alternative Paper'. The report was ignored by the police and the national media with the exception of Private Eye and the New Statesman. Walker claimed that it was unreasonable to claim that senior Liberals were unaware of what Smith was doing. He said it was because the news was 'an inconvenient truth'for the Liberal party. Despite the revelations in the report, Smith was returned as the local MP with an increased majority! Thanks to Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, the allegations were recently raised in the Commons. At last the media have become interested. People like Sir David Steel have yet to comment on the activities of this child abuser who had been a Party Whip as well as being knighted in 1988. The CPS have admitted culpability in failing to prosecute him.

In this excellent book by Danczuk and Baker the full horrors of this repulsive man are revealed. Known as 'the fat man' he got away with his sordid activities because staff at the hostel told children to shut up if they complained. Some staff may have been complicit in the abuse while others feared for their jobs if they blew the whistle. It is also alleged that Rochdale Council covered up Smith's behaviour. Astonishingly, families asked him to discipline their offspring because he was known to be a strict disciplinarian! He was only too willing to oblige.

As the authors make clear, the police and MI5 were well aware of what Smith was up to. There had been numerous reports of his activities in public toilets. Nevertheless, no charges were ever brought. It is also clear from this account that many senior Lib Dems knew of the rumours about the fat man in their party. David Steel even nominated him for an honour! On Smith's 80th birthday Clegg said:'You were a beacon for our party in the 1970's and 80's........'.

Smith was MP for Rochdale for 20 years despite the police getting over 144 claims of illegal sexual activities against him. The authors believe the reasons why fat man was never charged include: pressure from MI5, the climate of the time in which we now know senior Labour politicians had jobs or connections with the Paedophile Information Exchange, and a failure by the media to expose him. The result was that like the ghastly Savile he got away with his sordid activities.

The authors believe that the fact Smith escaped justice is more shocking than Savile's escape because Smith was a politician whereas the grubby Saville inhabited the even grubbier world of celebrities. Recent events make this assertion somewhat dubious.

Like Savile, Smith got away with his crimes because people were afraid of damaging (in Smith's case) the party image, and opening a 'can of worms'. Smith was a working class boy and as such appealed to the Liberals, a predominantly middle class party. He was the token Liberal MP. It is simply incredible that this huge figure's activities were unknown or talked about among senior Liberals. It is as implausible as the claim that numerous people in the BBC, and elsewhere, did not know of Savile's crimes.

In a brilliant lecture last year at Stanford University the speaker said that one of the hardest things in life was to convince people that the celebrities they see on screen or stage bear any resemblance to the real person. If anyone doubts this they are recommended to research the true lives of screen idols Cooper, Bryner, Davis, and a host of others including some of today's leading 'stars'. The same applies to many 'idols' throughout the entertainment industry, for example, Tommy Cooper to give only one example of an alcoholic and wife beater.

Savile and Smith, both serial child abusers, were popular.They deliberately fostered a public image of deep concern for disadvantaged young people. They did so in order to mask and provide a cover for their sordid crimes, knowing that an adoring public would refuse to believe that their idols could engage in such abominable crimes. It is incumbent on David Steel and Nick Clegg to surface and explain how this appalling man was allowed to get away with it for over 40 years.
To limply that nobody knew, or it was before my time is not good enough.

Both cases should be studied in detail by those who have recently condemned the CPS for a number of high profile cases who have been found not guilty by a jury verdict. Better this than monsters like Savile and Smith being allowed to roam free.

A brave and important book that deserves a wide readership.
Mr Danczuk has recently said he may reveal in the Commons the name of another paedophile politician who is 'even more important than Smith'. There is no doubt that this sordid business will now be invesitgated by the police and, hopefully, Rochdale Council. It would be gratifying also to hear from politicians how Smith was able to evade arrest for many years despite rumours that were swirling around the Commons and House of Lords. Finally, there are strong rumours that an independent report about dreadful events at a Rochdale school that Smith was associated with has been deliberately shelved by the council.
Hopefully, one day soon it will all will be revealed including the names of those who covered up for Cyril Smith.
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on 19 December 2014
a good book with some damning information on the political class as a whole, not to mention the title freak; C.smith. My only critsims is in its structure, or lack of it, as it generally wanders through Smith's perverted life without clear stages. other than that its a good book for those of use who are interested in the nature of the master class.
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on 26 August 2014
A fascinating insight into the very grubby world of Rochdale local politics and a very unpleasant politician. A frightening indictment of corrupt politicians at Westminster. Simon Danczuk has done us a great service and written in a way that brings this horrible era to life.
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I am always a little wary about accusing someone of any crime once they are dead but the author presents enough evidence in this shocking book to show that there were plenty of contemporaneous accusations against Cyril Smith decades before his death. Yes he undoubtedly did good work in Rochdale but that doesn't cancel out the abuse meted out to vulnerable boys and young men whose lives he ruined. He was not alone in carrying out such abuse and he seems to have had many high profile protectors who saw to it that all police investigations were simply filed away and not pursued because 'it was not in the public interest' to do so.

It is possible to argue that the culture was different then and that paedophilia wasn't something which was regarded as a crime but that is really no excuse when you consider that sexual contact with anyone under sixteen was illegal right throughout the period of Smith's activities as it is still today. I think it is the wide scale cover up of the abuse which disturbs me the most. Many people in a position to know what was going on attempted to get it stopped and the perpetrators prosecuted but too many of them lost their jobs or were at the very least punished for speaking out and their careers suffered for it.

This is not how it should be in a civilised society. People should be able to speak out and have their concerns listened to and investigated. Yes there will always be a small minority of people who will make up such accusations because they want the publicity but the victims who came forward in this case were believed by police who had great experience of such cases and who were experienced at identifying lies.

This is a horrifying book to read but it does not dwell on salacious details. What it does dwell on, and rightly so in my opinion is the cover up which took place. The MPs who knew what was going on and who did nothing - who didn't 'rock the boat'. The book should be read by everyone who cares about children and by those who want to see people in public life called to account where they have not lived up to the standards expected of them.
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on 30 March 2016
A much-needed work, albeit obviously written in something of a rush on limited resources. Perhaps the author's own personal problems played a part - but don't let that put you off.

As well as revealing Smith’s monstrous sexual abuse of young boys, this exposes an establishment cover-up continuing to this day. Pages 52-54 explain a children’s officer told police of Smith’s sexual kicks when spanking boys at Cambridge House. Not only was no action taken, the whistle-blower remains convinced that Smith was tipped off. Chapter 9 goes a step further by describing subsequent police investigations that were literally stopped in their tracks by senior officers who then squirrelled away the incriminating evidence.

Such evidence suggests Smith was part of a powerful paedophile ring whose immunity was protected at the very very top. Although not explicitly suggested the question is begged of whether other monsters such as Jimmy Savile were fellow participants. These guys didn't sit in committee rooms and plan their conduct, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion there wasn't something of a joint-enterprise. To this I may add both doted on their mother whilst publicly proclaiming Christian beliefs and values, and comparisons with offending Catholic priests are also germane. Not only for their abuse of power on vulnerable young people for their sexual kicks, but how the 'establishment' covered it all up, adding to the victims suffering.

It is also true that times were different then with deferential cap-doffing to our so-called ‘elders and betters’, and the Liberal Party has some mitigation as reeling from the Jeremy Thorpe scandal. But have things changed that much? David Cameron is hardly forthcoming at the present moment (pages 211-212). Let's see if the public inquiry will tell us much, but frankly don't hold your breath - officers haven't been granted immunity for breaching the Official Secrets Act for instance.

Until such time predators like Smith and Savile will continue to prey.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 December 2015
Quite different from the usual True Crime bilge that sells in droves, this book actually IS in the public interest not least as there are people who knew and know better who effectively helped Smith. Although Danczuk was only following in the brave footsteps of the local Rochdale Alternative Paper and Private Eye, he is to be congratulated for bringing the details to a wider public. I have latterly heard David Steel, a politician I admire, answer evasively when asked about what he knew and when. The only pity is that Smith is dead, but part of this book concerns why he was allowed to remain unaccused in his lifetime since it is obvious formal charges should have been laid and this was evident when he was alive. A disturbing book, partly for what Smith did, partly for how he was able to avoid the consequences. Not a pleasant read but manifestly not prurient and Very Important. Little here was new to me, but Private Eye takes the credit for that. Hats off for its pertinacity; this aspect of the fortnightly had become more pronounced during Ian Hislop's admirable tenure as editor. Credit too to Mr Danczuk for ensuring that those in the know are themselves better known; and demonstrating the corruption of the anachronistic 'honours' system that should have died with Maundy Gregory and Lloyd George but which seems no nearer to ending than ever ('Sir' Jeffrey Archer indeed, an indictment in itself; the very SOUND of 'Sir' Cyril Smith appals).
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on 10 August 2014
For all UK readers of a certain age the name Cyril Smith is "big" in their memory. What is shocking about this book is that so many people including politicians and the police were aware that Smith spent so much of his life abusing those who were in no position to show any form of defence against this 29 stone obese devil incarnate "young boys who were himiliated, terrified and reduced to quivering wrecks by a 29-stone bully imposing himself on them." That this obscene individual was able to perpetrate such vile crime and destroy the lives of so many and not be "outed" or punished during his lifetime is a total injustice and those who had the means to stop him, and for whatever reason did not, should hang their heads in shame!!
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on 18 May 2015
An incredibly enlighting book about Cyril Smith, his cronies in high places and the establishment - very, very disturbing to think that some of them and many others who knew what was going at the time are still around continuing to serve the people of this country and still are, apparently, untouchable! This book was very informative, well written and fascinating in a horrible way to read about him and how he got off scott free each time because of our corrupt, so called betters. It left me feeling angry but also extremely sad for all of the ruined lives of the boys involved. I hope more of them can find the courage to talk about the past and free themselves of any guilt that they may feel because of this despicable man, they did nothing wrong. Good luck to them. I hope that one day this government sees sense and deals with all those that were/are involved with this sort of appalling behaviour and brings them to justice wherever they may be hiding within our hierarchy..............................
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on 21 August 2015
Very well written and highly recommended.
On the one hand the Cyril Smith story feels like a traditional morality tell of someone who rises to power and who is progressively corrupted by power and status. But its also a more modern tale of how a powerful person has got away with serious child abuse for so long and, like with Jimmy Savile and to a lesser extent Leon Brittan, the truth only really coming out after his death. The preface is particularly thought provoking as to why Cyril Smith escaped justice. This is a story not just about evil actions of one man - clearly Smith was protected by powerful political forces. The book also shed light on the wider Westminster/institutional child abuse scandals including Rochdale (Danczuk highlights the link between white working class boys being abused/not listened to with Smith and the subsequent failings of Rochdale Council/police to react to white working class girls being abused more recently)
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on 14 May 2014
The newly-elected Rochdale MP is puzzled by the pervasive infuence of a popular previous incumbent - and then people start inviting in to their homes for a cup of tea with, "I can tell you a thing or two about Cyril Smith." Simon Danczuk started investigating - and this is the full horrible story of how local-boy-made-good Cyril Smith abused and bullied children in a fifty year career.
Sparse, elegant prose tells the story, often in victims' own words. The writers have done the country, the victims, and their home town a great service. It's also a riveting read.
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