When the police launched the Jimmy Savile inquiry a year ago, I suggested they might just as well re-open the case of another novelty Northern nonce, Cyril Smith.
The rumours had been doing the rounds for decades. Word had it that, like Savile, he was protected by friends in high places.
Yesterday came confirmation. Smith, the elephantine Liberal MP for Rochdale, who died in 2010, was at it for years. But his serial abuse of young boys was covered up by police and MI5.
A file was found in a safe at Lancashire police headquarters naming at least eight of his victims. They describe being beaten, stripped, massaged and subjected to bizarre ‘chastisements’ and ‘hygiene inspections’ by the 29-stone Smith.
The file was handed to prosecutors in 1970 but went ‘missing’. It was discovered seven years later by a Special Branch detective, Tony Robinson. He told Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, broadcast last night, that when news of the file leaked out, he received a call from MI5 requesting that it be sent to London by special courier.
Another officer, Paul Foulston, says he was ordered by Special Branch not to pursue an investigation into the murder of an 18-year-old boy alleged to have been involved in a sexual relationship with Smith.
The assistant chief constable of Lancashire, Andy Rhodes, admits that Savile and Smith got away with it for years because people who had the opportunity to stop them chose to turn a blind eye. It’s more serious than just turning a blind eye. What is being alleged is that senior police and security services officers were involved in a conspiracy to bury serious sex crimes, up to and including murder.