For a monthly newspaper published from a cellar by two idealistic young college lecturers, the scoop on the front page of the tiny Rochdale Alternative Press in May 1979 was truly sensational.
Known as RAP, the newspaper, which cost nine pence and was distributed by volunteers in pubs, devoted its entire cover to a story headlined: Strange Case of Smith the Man. Inside, across two pages, the report detailed — in harrowing, graphic terms — the systematic sexual abuse of young boys at a children’s home set up by local dignitaries and funded by the Lancashire town’s Rotary Club. But what really created a stir was the man identified as the chief paedophile: Cyril Smith.
Elected as the local Liberal MP in 1972, a position he held for the next 20 years, the 29-stone 50-year-old was as famous for his weight as his political views.
A regular on the chat-show circuit of the time, he even appeared with Jimmy Savile, the now disgraced BBC disc jockey, on a celebrity edition of the DJ’s TV programme Clunk Click. Smith died from cancer two years ago but remains, officially, the fattest man ever to be an MP.
Known nationally as ‘Big Cyril’, the unmarried politician had first come to prominence when he bizarrely named his mum as First Lady of Rochdale after he became mayor in 1966, saying he wanted to ‘thank her’ for everything.
He later explained that he was a lifelong bachelor because politics meant ‘he hadn’t had a lot of time for courting women’.
The politician’s predilection for young boys, however, was already the stuff of gossip and jokes in pubs around Rochdale, a close-knit community where secrets did not remain secret for long.
The investigation published in the Rochdale Alternative Press grew out of saloon-bar chat at the Golden Ball, the local pub used for meetings by David Bartlett and John Walker, joint editors of the alternative newspaper, which was printed from a cellar in Bartlett’s home.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2237627/Cyril-Smith-child-abuse-Chilling-claims-Smith-child-abuse-scandal-concealed-avoid-crisis-Westminster.html#ixzz2DEkEtfZW
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