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Lord Steel: I was ‘perfectly happy’ to recommend Cyril Smith for a knighthood

CYRIL-SMITH_2881978bLord Steel, the former Liberal leader, has said he was “perfectly happy” to recommend Cyril Smith for a knighthood and suggested he is “innocent until proven guilty”.

In his first public intervention, Lord Steel said he did not have the ‘slightest inkling’ that Smith was sexually abusing boys while he was a Liberal MP.

He said he was aware of earlier allegations of physical abuse dating back to the 1960s, but added that they were “ancient” and had already been investigated by the police at the time.

He said that the police should face questions about their failure to prosecute Sir Cyril, not the Liberals. “We were a political party, not a detective agency,” he said.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: “In the case of Cyril Smith he had been the distinguished MP for the area for 15 years, he had announced that he wasn’t standing again, he was in poor health, many MPs got knighthoods. Many MPs got knighthoods at 14-15 years, I was perfectly happy with that. If I had the slightest inkling there was anything wrong in his behaviour it would not have happened.”

Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader, has said he was “perfectly happy” to recommend Cyril Smith for a knighthood and suggested he is “innocent until proven guilty”.

In his first public intervention, Lord Steel said he did not have the ‘slightest inkling’ that Smith was sexually abusing boys while he was a Liberal MP.

He said he was aware of earlier allegations of physical abuse dating back to the 1960s, but added that they were “ancient” and had already been investigated by the police at the time.

He said that the police should face questions about their failure to prosecute Sir Cyril, not the Liberals. “We were a political party, not a detective agency,” he said.

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He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: “In the case of Cyril Smith he had been the distinguished MP for the area for 15 years, he had announced that he wasn’t standing again, he was in poor health, many MPs got knighthoods. Many MPs got knighthoods at 14-15 years, I was perfectly happy with that. If I had the slightest inkling there was anything wrong in his behaviour it would not have happened.”

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