Prosecutors' failure 'left Cyril Smith free to go on abusing boys' at second children's home as late as 1980Chris Marshall said he was just seven or eight when he was sexually abused by Smith at a notorious school for vulnerable boysMr Marshall moved into Knowl
View in Rochdale in 1979 and said just months later was forced to
perform a sex act on Smith
01:38 GMT, 29 November 2012
A decision not to prosecute Cyril Smith in the 1960s over allegations of sexual abuse left him free to prey on other children, it was claimed yesterday.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admits it should have prosecuted the politician over accusations of abuse towards the end of the 60s.
But fresh claims emerged yesterday that the 29-stone MP sexually abused boys at a second children’s home as late as 1980.
Horrific: Chris Marshall, right, said he was just seven or eight when he was sexually abused by Cyril Smith, left, at a notorious school for vulnerable boys
Chris Marshall said he was just seven or eight when he was sexually abused by Smith at a notorious school for vulnerable boys.
Mr Marshall, now 40, moved into Knowl View in Rochdale in 1979. Just months later, he says, he was forced to perform a sex act on Smith – known to the pupils as ‘the fat man’ – after being ‘summoned’ from his dormitory in the dead of night.
He said: ‘A member of staff came up and took me from the room. He took me into this flat. The fat man was on the bed and another kid was there too.
‘We were told to go back afterwards to our rooms, not to wake anybody else up and have a good breakfast in the morning.
‘It was a dreadful, dreadful experience but I was so confused I didn’t tell anyone until much later. But the school was rife with this type of behaviour and there were all sorts of sexual things going on.’
After the abuse, he begged staff for his own room. When he got his wish, he slept with a chair against the door so no-one could get in.
Request: Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said it would be 'helpful' if Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, pictured, withdrew the tribute he paid to Smith on his death in 2010
Mr Marshall said that it was only when he was in his teens and saw photos of the high-profile politician in a newspaper that he realised who his abuser was.
He said: ‘It was definitely Cyril Smith. The truth is he was a child abuser and targeted vulnerable children. People need to know this is what he was – he was a paedophile.’ Mr Marshall has since made a complaint to police and hopes his actions will encourage other victims to come forward.
A social worker blew the whistle on the behaviour at Knowl View – which closed in 1992 – and police launched an investigation. In September 2002, David Higgins, a former teacher, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency.
Smith, who was a Liberal then Liberal Democrat MP from 1972-92, was a governor at the troubled school though he was not looked at as part of those probes.
On Tuesday the CPS admitted Smith, who was a Labour councillor in the 1950s and 60s, should have been charged with sex crimes more than 40 years ago. Instead, in March 1970, the Director of Prosecution, Norman Skelhorn, wrote to Lancashire Police saying he would not advise prosecution.
The CPS said procedural changes meant a prosecution would have been pursued today.
Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: ‘I am confident in saying, having met a number of the victims, that he went on to abuse into the 70s, 80s and even into the 90s, so he was empowered by the fact that he hadn’t been prosecuted.’
Mr Danczuk added that it would be ‘helpful’ if Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg withdrew the tribute he paid to Smith on his death in 2010.
Mr Clegg said at the time: ‘Cyril Smith was a larger-than-life character and one of the most recognisable and likeable politicians of his day. Everybody in Rochdale knew him, not only as their MP but also as a friend.’
Last night a Lib Dem spokesman said: ‘Nick Clegg, like the whole of the party, is horrified by these allegations. Clearly, if he had been aware of them, he would not have made previous positive comments about Cyril Smith and strongly disassociates himself from them.’
Yesterday it emerged former prime minister Tony Blair’s personal priest will be questioned by police over Knowl View.
In 2007, Father Michael Seed, 55, wrote a book, in which he detailed sexual abuse in the school where he had been a pupil. He was unavailable for comment last night.