British MP slams ex PM Thatcher for pedophile cover-up

Margaret Thatcher (Reuters / Andrew Winning)
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was aware a Liberal MP was suspected of sexually abusing boys but “turned a blind eye” to it. She awarded a knighthood to Cyril Smith, secret documents, released after a yearlong fight for disclosure, reveal.

"There is no doubt about it now, from what we know, that she [Thatcher] turned a blind eye to people who were quite clearly pedophiles. That is absolutely clear,” said Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who exposed Cyril Smith’s abuse in Parliament.

Smith was investigated in 1970, 1988 and in 1999 on suspicion of "indecent assault against teenage boys" in the 1960s.

At the time, the authorities decided there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Later, Greater Manchester Police also admitted there had been “overwhelming evidence” Smith abused boys both physically and sexually.

This didn’t change Thatcher’s decision to knight Smith for his services as a counselor, mayor and MP in Rochdale, Lancashire.

The 19-page dossier on Smith’s knighthood released to the Mail on Sunday, reveal a leading member of the Political Honors Scrutiny Committee, Lord Shackleton, warned Thatcher “the risk that such an award could give rise to adverse criticism.” This is according to one of the letters marked “secret”.

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In the same letter, Shackleton said it would be "slightly unfortunate" if this "episode" prevented Smith from receiving the award.

Despite the risk of damaging the “integrity of the honors system,” Thatcher went ahead and awarded a knighthood to Smith in 1988.

The Mail has been demanding to see the dossier on Smith’s knighthood and Downing Street correspondence for a year, but was only allowed to review the secret documents after threats of High Court action.

The government postponed its response several times so the newspaper had to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. The file was finally provided though several pages were withheld on grounds of national security.

"(The Cabinet Office) have resisted publishing these documents for over 12 months - that's not acceptable,” Danczuk said. "And we now know they are resisting publishing at least four other files relating to historic child sexual abuse.”

The committee sent a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking "whether the case against Mr Smith was not well founded: or whether it was a sound case, but that the evidence was not likely to stand up in court" but no response was received, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Danczuk says the UK government is refusing to publish at least four other files on historic child abuse because it’s worried about what information may be revealed ahead of May's general election. He accused the current prime minister and deputy prime minister of a cover-up.

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"Nick Clegg and David Cameron have colluded in covering this up. It involves their people and we should not have to learn about this piecemeal because of journalists pestering for information,” Danczuk told the Mail on Sunday.

But while Cameron “promised there would be no stone unturned into the inquiry of historic sex abuse,” Clegg’s office seems to be reluctant to comply.

“Nick Clegg, who sits in this department, has already written to me refusing to carry out an investigation into who knew what about Cyril Smith in his party and it’s disappointing to see the Cabinet Office continuing this unhelpful approach,” Danczuk said.

The Cabinet asserts the rest of the dossier is not being published “on grounds of national security,” the Mail reported.

“We are sorry that it has taken some time to consult all relevant officials,” the department said.

Smith died in Rochdale in 2010 aged 82. Margaret Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She died in London in 2013.