Lord Steel's title should be removed, lawyer to Cyril Smith's victims tells LBC

26 February 2020, 15:24 | Updated: 26 February 2020, 15:27

By Fiona Jones

Lawyer to Cyril Smith's victims told LBC that Lord Steel's title should be stripped after a damning report found he was amongst those to turn a "blind eye" to the child sex abuse claims levelled against MP Cyril Smith.

A handful of prominent MPs including Liberal leader Cyril Smith and Conservative Peter Morrison were "known to be active in their sexual interest in children" but avoided prosecution.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Steel resigned yesterday from the party and the Lords after the inquiry revealed he failed to pass on allegations against the late MP Cyril Smith. Despite Lord Steel believing claims against Smith to be true, he "abdicated responsibility" because it was past history, according to the dossier.

He later recommended Smith for a knighthood.

Nick asked lawyer to Cyril Smith's victims, Professor Laura Hoyano, whether anyone who looked the other way "should be stripped of any title or honour they have."

"If the evidence is sufficient to warrant the honours committee and the forfeiture committee to look at it, I would say yes," she replied, and added that at present it is not possible to posthumously strip someone of their title but believes this policy should be changed forthwith.

Cyril Smith (left) with Lord Steel who failed to report allegations, according to the report
Cyril Smith (left) with Lord Steel who failed to report allegations, according to the report. Picture: PA

Nick Ferrari questioned the point of the inquiry as offenders including Smith and Morrison are deceased so obviously cannot be prosecuted; Ms Hoyano responded that the report has exposed police misconduct.

The report found "that the police had been forced by senior officers to stop investigations of Cyril Smith in 1977-8 that indicated that he was exploiting children sexually whilst he was a member of parliament," she said.

"I don't think you should assume there will be no criminal prosecutions arising from the findings of the inquiry," she said.

"[Smith] managed to get through life escaping prosecution again and again when the police had collected evidence sufficient to prosecute him and went to his grave as a knight."

Nick questioned why, it seemed, in the UK men in a position of power seemed to have a "penchant for boys".

"I would not accept that, actually," Ms Hoyano said, referring to Cardinal Pell in Australia who is a convicted child sex offender, "I would say that every society has its problems of cover up of abuse."

Following the report Lord Steel said he struggled to hear while giving evidence, and was unable to clarify his evidence to the inquiry.

He added: "Knowing all I know now, I condemn Cyril Smith's actions towards children. Not having secured a parliamentary scalp, I fear that I have been made a proxy for Cyril Smith.