The Vole and Son, after a public attack by Alistair Carmichael, ask again why he voted against the Official Secrets Act amendment and if elected if he would vote in the same way again.
- We know he was NOT in office when most of these events occurred but he was Chief Whip when some the stories about Smith’s behaviour resurfaced in 2012. The Liberal Democrats’ Tim Farron, then President of the Liberal Democrats, says that the party has a lot of questions to answer. We would like these answers now. Before votes are cast.
- What do senior members of the Liberal Democrat Party know about the criminal activities of Cyril Smith in the 1980s when he was a serving MP?
- What did Mr. Carmichael know as Chief Whip? When did he know it? What advice did he give Nick Clegg? What attempts were made to contact and support Smith’s victims?
He accused us of telling ‘a blatant lie’ in our blog when we
claimed that the inquiry into historic child abuse had been blocked, or its work made more difficult. This being a consequence of the Government, of which Mr. Carmichael is a member, voting down an amendment to the Official Secrets Act. This was designed to give a specific defence to Special Branch officers who want to testify in public
Since the vote has taken place, new allegations about Cyril Smith have been made and the question of Immunity for Crown Officers keeps occurring.
Mr. Carmichael said that because of our maleficent blogging, staff had gone into the office on Monday morning to find one message on the office answer phone asking what he, Mr. Carmichael, had to cover up and if he was a paedophile? This was clearly a horrible experience, this suggestion of paedophilia is disgusting and not one that originates with us.
Mr Carmichael sent a reply to some people who had written to him after reading our blog. Two passed on what he said to us and, believing in the right to reply, we posted an extract here and the full text here.
We think that he gets two things wrong.
- His first mistake is to think that the law already gives sufficient protection to whistle blowers. All the Opposition parties disagree. In March, after the vote, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said that she hoped that people would not be prosecuted. We do not think that is enough nor do the police officers who spoke to the BBC. These arguments we have already aired on another post.
- The second mistake is that there is a conspiracy. He wrote,
“I understand that this issue will have come to your attention through an anonymous blog from a nationalist campaign group. The same story is being used by SNP activists in other parts of Scotland so it is obviously part of a concerted campaign of misinformation.”
Well, I showed this to Svein, my youngest and he got very upset. He had found the story by snuffling around on the Internet looking at Mr. Carmichael’s voting record because he wanted to know what MPs do for a living.
I was reading my favourite book, ‘Great Vermin in Orkney History,’ when I was disturbed by Svein yelping in alarm, I rushed over to see what was frightening the brave little chap. He showed me the Norman Awards site. There was a huge, scary picture of Cyril Smith with the headline, ‘Historic Child Abuse – how did your MP vote? Svein asked me about our MP. I scrolled down the list and we were both surprised and upset to see that he had voted ‘no’. I promised Svein to use the Internet to see if Mr. Carmichael would tell us why. I knew he would have a good reason. When Svein, saw the email that Mr. Carmichael sent around he was very hurt. He does not like being called a ‘concerted campaign of misinformation.’ Svein was very proud that he had asked a good question and lots of other people wanted to ask it too. He thought that was what politics was all about and that his MP should take him seriously even if he was just the cute offspring of a nationalist vole. When Mr Carmichael said at the hustings that he was being smeared Svein wanted to hide under the bed. I reminded him what Mr Carmichael had said, ‘These things happen in elections.’
We are not the conspirators. At the hustings, Mr. Carmichael said the message left by the anonymous caller asked him what he is covering up. This question clearly caused Mr. Carmichael fury, but he did not answer it.
No wonder. Being asked it, especially in front of staff, must have been unpleasant. Lots of other people, voles too, want to know the answer. What files do the Liberal Democrats hold on Cyril Smith? Liz Lynne, a later MP for Rochdale has denied destroying some her secretary had made. Do others exist? Lots of people have suggested that there has been a cover-up by establishment figures over many years. Detective Sergeant Jack Tasker wants to know why he was ordered to destroy his files. He told the Mirror that he had a compelling case for prosecution but his inquiries were blocked when Special Branch intervened.
On the 8th of March the Politics Home website said
“The Cabinet Office refused five requests from the Mail on Sunday to release hitherto secret files, which reveal that then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was told of allegations that the Liberal MP had indecently assaulted boys in the 1960s.
The documents, which also show Thatcher ignored advice that awarding a knighthood to Smith risked “damaging the integrity of the honours system”, were only released after the newspaper threatened to take the matter to the High Court.
Labour MP Simon Danczuk said the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister “have colluded in covering this up”, adding: “It involves their people and we should not have to learn about this piecemeal because of journalists pestering for information.”
The same day The Independent said,
The documents, only made public this week after an intervention from the Information Commissioner, include an undated letter marked “secret” warning Ms Thatcher that there was “the risk that such an award could give rise to adverse criticism”. So she knew.
In 2014, David Steel said, Steel said that Smith confessed to spanking boys and conducting intimate “medical examinations” on them but was allowed to remain as a Liberal MP. Steel said:
“I asked Cyril Smith about it. I was half expecting him to say it was all wrong, and I would have been urging him to sue to save his reputation. To my surprise he said the report was correct.” Steel said that Smith had a supervisory role in institutions in Rochdale where he was involved in corporal punishment. Steel said of the abuse allegations: “They had been investigated by the police, as Private Eye stated, and no action had been taken on them. So there was nothing more I could do.”
This inaction by Steel meant that Smith continued his activities after he was elected an MP. We now know that he was arrested at a sex party in the 1980s. The police officers were told to let him go. In another incident the BBC claimed that Smith, was stopped on the M1 in Northamptonshire again during the 1980s but was released from police custody after making a phone call to an unknown third party in London. What is alarming in both these cases is that Smith only had to make one phone call. In other words, Smith knew he was at risk, knew who to call and the person he was calling was not surprised and had power to command the police officer to desist immediately. In other words, a system was in place that enabled Smith to carry on his criminal behaviour. That is a conspiracy. Did David Steel know about it?
What about Mr Carmichael?
He has only been an MP since 2001. We know that he has no personal responsibility in any way for what happened before he was in office. He was not involved in any way in any of those misbehaviours and no one, to our knowledge, has suggested that he was.
He is responsible for what he has done since elected. He is standing for a political party that has serious questions to answer about Smith and has not done well so far. He cannot be surprised when we want to ask him questions about it.
Smith had a grand 80th birthday celebration in 2008 at the Rochdale Town Hall. Paddy Ashdown, David Alton, Chris Davies and many of others of the great and good of the party were there. Did you go Mr. Carmichael?
Nick Clegg made a speech that was carried by a number of papers
The Mail quoted him saying,
I’m a great admirer of you personally, but also owe you a great debt of gratitude politically too.’
The BBC also quoted him,
“You were a beacon for our party in the 70s and 80s and continue to be an inspiration for the people of Rochdale and many others.”
Mrs. Thatcher knew about these allegations long ago. How is is possible that Nick Clegg and the other senior members of his party didn’t? If Clegg was ignorant, is it because his predecessors as leader chose not to tell him. These people are all still alive, they can answer for themselves but are sadly, not standing for election. The whole affair is beginning to feel like what happened within the clergy of the Catholic Church. Individual priests at different levels of seniority destroyed lives to protect their church and its reputation. Incredible pain was caused by their behaviour and still does.
General Elections are about holding MPs and parties to account. Mr Carmichael answers for the actions of his party at the ballot box. This is not personal.
So to conclude, we ask you, as a representative of the Liberal Democrats again and directly, why did you vote against the amendment?
With the new information that has come to light since the vote, would you change your mind now?
Will you disassociate yourself from David Steel whose inactivity enabled, we now know, Smith to hurt other children, real children and frustrated the work of honest police men who tried to protect them?
Since you raised the question of cover-up publicly, we pursue it.
Did your party ever hold files on Cyril Smith? If the answer is yes, where are they? If they do not exist who destroyed them?
You were Chief Whip from 2010 – 2013 and were only elected in 2001. We know that your experience only goes back so far, so, if you cannot answer our question, who can?
What advice as Chief Whip did you give Nick Clegg? What line did you put out to your colleagues? In other words, how did you spin the story?
What has your party done to compensate or support Smith’s victims, who could have been saved, if he had been made to retire from public life?
We know that this is not the reason you came into politics. It looks like you inherited a very poisonous mess in a party that had become complicit by trying to do damage limitation about the impact of Smith’s behaviour.
We, your voters, deserve fuller explanations from you and your colleagues now if we are to have confidence that your party, if it holds office again, will be willing and competent to be clear this mess up. If this is not an election issue, goodness knows what is. Enough is enough.