Former leader of the Liberal Party, David now Lord Steel has admitted under oath that Cyril Smith confessed to him in 1979 that the child abuse allegations against him were true.
Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse,Steel admitted he still did nothing about it, and made no effort to investigate whether Smith posed any continuing risk to children.
Lord Steele also confirmed that he hasn’t read the Inquiry’s report into Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale which looked at allegations of child sexual abuse involving Cyril Smith.
He also told the Inquiry that that he hadn’t heard on the grapevine, or via the whips, any rumours about Cyril Smith being under investigation by Lancashire Police for child sexual abuse but that he questioned Cyril Smith about an article in Private Eye where it was alleged he spanked boys in a children’s hostel.
Steele went on to say that he assumed that Cyril Smith had committed the offences against boys discussed in Private Eye in May 1979.but said that the alleged abuse took place in the 1960s, before Cyril Smith was a member of the Liberal Party.
Inquiry Counsel Brian Altman QC asked Lord Steel about a statement issued by the Liberal Party press office in relation to Cyril Smith in 1979, stating: “All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.” asking if this statement trivialised the abuse.
In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight on 4 June 2018, Lord Steel was asked about allegations against Cyril Smith involving boys, which he described as based on “scurrilous hearsay and tittle tattle”
The Inquiry is holding three weeks of public hearings into allegations of child sexual abuse and exploitation involving people of public prominence associated with Westminster.
As well as Cyril Smith, the inquiry is looking into the activities of former Tory MP for Chester, Peter Morrison and Green Party member David Challenor, who was jailed for 22 years last year after being convicted of sexual assault against a 10-year-old girl,