Alistair Carmichael MP attacks social media for daring to mention Cyril Smith and ask questions. The Vole replies.

orkneyvoles
Breakfast at the Burrow

Mrs Vole came in from the foraging down at Argo’s today in a bit of a fankle. ‘Well dear.’ she said, ‘looks like you are famous.’

I replied wearily ‘What on earth are you on about?

‘Its Mr Carmichael, the Great Hogboon. He mentioned you in ‘the Orcadian’ today. Not by name tho.’

I almost spluttered on my breakfast sclater. ‘Not by name?’ 

‘No dear, but it must be you, this is what he said.’

‘…. commented on the use of social media and said that he had seen the use of ‘smear’ tactics’

“There were some unpleasant aspects to it – some of the stuff on social media, in particular.

I don’t know if we’ve learned quite yet how to use social media, or if social media has quite worked out what to do on politics but its not working at the moment.

There was some unpleasant stuff about child abuse investigations. which was not the sort of thing that has ever featured in Orkney politics in the past. It was a downright smear. But maybe thats where politics is now whether you like it or not.’

‘I didn’t smear him.  I just wanted to know what Mr Carmichael knew as Chief Whip about Cyril Smith. I wondered if Nick Clegg spoke to him about solicitors’ letters  he refused to answer, the ones requesting the party’s files on what had gone on.  It all happened not that long ago. We wondered if it might have explained that vote in the House of Commons when the Government  refused to give whistle blowers that defence.’

‘That one where some of his own MPs rebelled against the party and voted with all of those in opposition.’

She was getting mad with me. ‘He has been very cross with you. I don’t think you should have been so cheeky’

I sighed, ‘But I liked that picture of him snogging David Cameron. I would have thought a LibDem would have been glad of the attention. Social media lets us make fun of people in power and try to get them to account for what they have done in office. ’

My best beloved rustled her tail in irritation, ‘But he says Orkney politics has never been like this before.’

I look firm. ‘He is right, it has never been so serious. We have the food banks now and we have never been represented by someone whose party has been alleged to involved in a cover up of criminal behaviour by one of its MPs before. ‘

‘‘I suppose that’s why My Carmichael doesn’t like you. You want him to answer for the things his party did when he was in power’

Yes love, and here are the questions again. If he gives us a good answer we never need mention it again. Maybe he will have the time to do it now he is no longer a government minister. We won’t stop until he does.’

  • When did you first learn about Cyril Smith’s criminal activities as an MP?
  • When you were chief whip and requests for information from victims were received, were you involved in the decision to not answer the letters?
  • What files has the party held on Cyril Smith? Where are they now? If they were destroyed, on whose orders?
  • What advice did you give Nick Clegg on how to handle the situation?
  • Did David Steel know about the system that was in place that enabled Smith to make one phone call to get out of trouble?
  • David Steel’s unwillingness to act enabled Smith to continue his activities. Will you disassociate yourself from him?
  • What practical support will the party offer the people Smith victimised as an MP?
  • Did Liz Lynne ever tell you about the conversation she had with Martin Digan in 1996? The one she does not remember and is alleged to have burned the files over?
  • What is the difference between a cover-up and refusing to release the information?

The Best Beloved smiled and patted my paw, ‘I do love you Furry Face, you are my intrepid Vole.’

I smoothed my whiskers modestly, ‘It’s not hard when you are doing the right thing, love.’

Clegg ignored lawyers letters requesting files when Carmichael was Chief Whip.

Cyril Smith, LibDem finest
Cyril Smith, LibDem finest

The more I look at how the Liberal Democrats have behaved in the last couple of years about the legacy of Cyril Smith, the more disgusted I am. Every day, I find out something worse. I thought Liz Lynne being alleged to burning files was bad enough.

It gets worse. A firm of solicitors representing boys abused by Cyril Smith wrote to Nick Clegg requesting all files held by the party.

The Guardian reported on 27th February 2013

Alan Collins, a partner in the law firm Pannone, said Clegg had failed to acknowledge the letters. “We have formally written to Nick Clegg’s office on two occasions since 3 January requesting the chief whips’ files on the basis of our clients’ instructions and a CPS report into allegations of abuse at a hostel in Rochdale,” he said.

“We have good reason to believe that they contain information which will show that senior figures in the party were well aware of the allegations against Smith. However, we have not yet received a reply from the deputy prime minister.

How can we elect to Parliament people who covered up their most popular MP behaving like this? They must have thought harm to children was less important than the reputation of their party, that this was just another situation to manage.

Alistair Carmichael was chief whip at the time. If refusing to release files is not a cover up Mr. Carmichael, what do you call it? How would you explain your behaviour? Oh, I forget, you do not have to answer questions from people you disagree with. You will have to before the Goddard Inquiry and then you will have to resign if you are still in office.

11 questions Alistair Carmichael refuses to answer about Cyril Smith.

CyrilSmith_cropped
Cyril Smith having a nice time at party conference

Alistair Carmichael is still not answering the VOles questions about Cyril Smith. We invite him to post a response. Please email him and if you get a new reply let us know. If he knocks on your door, give him a warm welcome, a homebake and a grilling.

Maybe another Scottish Liberal Democrat MP could help?

These are the old questions.

-When did you first learn about Cyril Smith’s criminal activities as an MP?
-What did you do to ascertain further information?
-What files has the party held on Cyril Smith? Where are they now? If they were destroyed, on whose orders?
-What advice did you give Nick Clegg on how to handle the situation?
-Did David Steel know about the system that was in place that enabled Smith to make one phone call to get out of trouble?
-David Steel’s unwillingness to act enabled Smith to continue his activities. Will you disassociate yourself from him?
– What practical support will the party offer the people Smith victimised as an MP?

And two new ones.

Did Liz Lynne ever tell you about the conversation she had with Martin Digan in 1996? The one she does not remember and is alleged to have burned the files over?

What is the difference between a cover-up and refusing to release the information?

659px-Liz_Lynne_MEP_at_Bournemouth
Did Liz Lynne order files burned?

Image credits

“CyrilSmith cropped” by CyrilSmith.jpg: Rodhullandemuderivative work: Ukexpat – This file was derived from: CyrilSmith.jpg:. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

“‘Liz Lynne MEP addressing a Liberal Democrat conference in the Bournemouth International Centre’ , Keith Edkins,  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liz_Lynne_MEP_at_Bournemouth.jpg Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Carmichael accuses Vole of inbreeding but does not answer questions. Shocked Vole denies smear.

Alistair_Carmichael_MP_at_Bournemouth_2009YESNP Brigadoon & Shortbread West asked Alistair Carmichael on facebook to “help the paedophile-obsessed Orkney Vole with their research.”

He got a reply,

“Thank you for contacting me with respect to my constituent, The Orkney Vole. Unfortunately that particular rodent and his family are beyond help due to generations of interbreeding, a practice that he continues to this day with his sister.”

This is a fine example of playing the Vole, not the issue, and he accuses me of smearing! He seems to think that he does not need to answer questions from political opponents and complains that repeated attempts to get him to respond are harassment.

Various people in Facebook have mentioned other scandals as if this is some kind of ghastly tit for tat , Bill Walker, Ian Campbell Dunn of the Paedophile Information Exchange and the terrible things that happened  to Hollie Greig.

This is not a nationalist issue. There is a difference in scale. The current Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk accuses the current Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of colluding in covering up activities that involved Cyril Smith and may have also protected Lord Janner and Leon Brittan.

Danczuk wrote on 7th March,

“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. Both men need to come clean and make a personal commitment to revealing everything that is now held by Government departments. The Prime Minister promised there would be no stone unturned into the inquiry of historic sex abuse in Westminster. But the Cabinet Office seems to be doing the opposite. 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.’”

The Vole is not ashamed of caring about child protection and wanting a system that means that people are not protected from the consequences of crime by virtue of their office, be that financial, sexual or indeed and perhaps most seriously, engaging in illegal wars.

The Daily Mail, hardly a nationalist rag quoted Danczuk challenge to Clegg on the 9th April,

‘I urge him to face up to the fact that one of his colleagues – somebody who he and other members of his party celebrated for very many years – was a paedophile.

‘I think it is a disgrace to try to avoid tackling this issue and to try to politicise this issue in the way that he is doing.’

Here are the questions again. This is not a personal issue.  No one is accusing Mr. Carmichael of what he accused me, an innocent vole.

-When did you first learn about Cyril Smith’s criminal activities as an MP?
-What did you do to ascertain further information?
-What files has the party held on Cyril Smith? Where are they now? If they were destroyed, on whose orders?
-What advice did you give Nick Clegg on how to handle the situation?
-Did David Steel know about the system that was in place that enabled Smith to make one phone call to get out of trouble?
-David Steel’s unwillingness to act enabled Smith to continue his activities. Will you disassociate yourself from him?
– What practical support will the party offer the people Smith victimised as an MP?

 

 

 

 

 

Innocent Young Vole smeared by Alistair Carmichael over Inquiry allegations. SSPCA informed.

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?

Alistair_Carmichael_at_Glasgow_2014At the Radio Orkney Hustings broadcast last night, Alistair Carmichael committed a petulant attack on my little vole Svein, and myself.

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

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Carmichael explains why he voted ‘no’ on the Official Secrets Act ammendment – The Vole stands firm

Alistair_Carmichael_at_Glasgow_2014Clearly our recent posts about Alistair Carmichael and the Official Secrets Act vote have caused enormous interest. We are a little blog run from a burrow at the back of Stromness that normally gets a few hits a day but over the last week it has been something like 10,000. We are all thrilled. Mrs Vole has put out the flags and the volets are bragging to all their children.

We are glad that Alistair Carmichael has responded with his rationale for the vote.  Various people have been kind enough to send us what he said to them  and we thought it appropriate to quote him in full. I can understand why he did not want to contact me himself, I am only a vole and so not entitled to parliamentary representation until ARS (additional rodent system) is adopted, a policy no party has yet suggested.
This is what Carmichael said,

“The vote concerned was a proposed amendment to the Official Secrets Act which would have created a defence for anyone charged with unlawful disclosure under that act. The defence was for the accused to show that the disclosure was made in relation to an official enquiry into child sex abuse. I voted against it because a disclosure of this sort is already permitted and therefore a defence is not necessary.

As the Solicitor General explained in the House of Commons, “The Official Secrets Act is intended to protect certain classes of particularly sensitive information such as security and intelligence matters, and it provides for a number of offences that prevent current or former Crown servants or government contractors from disclosing certain information without lawful authority. It does not prevent protected information from being disclosed to an officer of an official investigation or inquiry into historical child abuse.”

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.

Having worked with the victims of child sex abuse, both as a lawyer and as an MP, I have seen for myself how it can ruin lives. I also know how difficult it can be to get victims to come forward and I am afraid that suggesting that there is a barrier to proper investigation where none exists will make that more difficult still.

This was not an amendment to “allow investigation of historic child abuse cases” as the headline in the article states. There is nothing in law that prevents such investigations taking place.”

And Peter Kennedy has commented on the previous post, kindly providing us with part of Carmichael’s text and saying that as a family lawyer, he believes that he is right.  We respect this and accept that our statement saying that Carmichael blocked the investigation was rather crude. Indeed, there is nothing to block an investigation from taking place and one has now been created.  The question is about what would stop potential witnesses giving evidence to it. Under normal circumstances, I am sure Peter Kennedy is right, it is widely understood that there is no duty of confidentiality more important than the protection of the child.  These are not usual circumstances.

The need for a specific defence

This vote was about creating a particular defence for government employees who may have been involved in cover ups who now what to speak up – people who want to give evidence to the Inquiry but are nervous about doing so in case of getting prosecuted or persecuted. .  Some of them clearly feel that this specific defence is needed even after the assurances have been made by the Home Secretary. When questioned by Keith Vaz on 17th March 2015,  she said  that she ‘hopes and expects’ that those who contravene the Official Secrets Act will not be prosecuted, but it must be for Justice Goddard and the Attorney General to decide.” It is clear from her reply, that if people did speak to the inquiry without due authority or if that had been refused,  they may actually break the law and so be at risk.  They would be dependent on assurances being made not to prosecute. That would not make this vole feel safe. Nor indeed does it work for many Special Branch officers, watch what John Mann said in the House of Commons as he supported the amendment.

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Carmichael blocks amendment to allow investigation of historic child abuse cases.


Alistair_Carmichael_at_Glasgow_2014This one is so serious that satire is not possible.  We need to know why our MP has behaved like this. 
“The Official Secrets Act 1989 amendment was proposed in parliament to make it easier to investigate systemic child abuse cases which have recently come to light with the leaking of a “missing” Westminster dossier which is said to have contained information about paedophiles in parliament and the house of lords. The Defence of Disclosure to Historic Child Abuse amendment was however, blocked by a majority Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote against it.”

http://normanawards.com/2015/04/06/historic-child-abuse-how-did-your-mp-vote.

Alistair Carmichael voted against the amendment on April 6th this year. [mistake – the vote took place on 23/2/2015 at 9 pm.] We know that a serious offender was Cyril Smith, an MP from his party now dead and so beyond prosecution. We know that he was allowed to get away with it. . Police investigations were blocked and officers made to hand over all evidence which was presumably destroyed,  He was not alone.

The Liberal Democrats are not the only people with reason to be nervous.  The BBC reported today that Lord Janner was known to be abusing boys in Leicestershire children’s homes between the 1970s and 1980s.  As the NSPCC said “something went badly wrong” in the way the allegations were handled and “we need to be reassured this will never happen again”.”

It is surely in the interests of everybody for there to be no appearance of secrets being kept and decisions being made behind closed doors by unaccountable people. We know the pain of this in Orkney perhaps more than most.  We know that practitioners need to be accountable and honest. We know that decision makers should not be able to hide under the Official Secrets Act. It has long been a principle that there is no principle of confidentiality more important than the protection of children.

This post has been amended to remove an image of Alistair Carmichael that was copyright to the Sheltand Times. We apologise to them for this inadvertant breach of copyright. This image is from WIKI.