Boy abused by 'screaming and shouting' Cyril Smith

Cyril Smith
Cyril Smith

A former schoolboy was forced to indecently touch Sir Cyril Smith while being punished at a notorious residential school in Greater Manchester.

And when the 10-year-old complained about his treatment he was spanked by the headmaster in front of other boys for potentially “ruining the career” of the politician, who would go on to become a Liberal MP.

The witness, from Wigan, has been giving evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse, before Prof Alex Jay, and cannot be named for legal reasons.

He was a pupil at Knowl View, a residential school in Rochdale overseen by Smith, which has been the centre of a number of child abuse probes.

In a statement he recalled how he was taken to a staff room by Smith, who began “screaming and shouting” at him, before placing him over his knee and forcing him to behave indecently.

Halfway through the incident, a fellow staff member walked in and asked the boy whether he was okay, the inquiry heard.

Questioned by Brian Altman, counsel to the inquiry, the former schoolboy said: “They were trying to say that I was ruining the man’s career. I didn’t even know what a career was - I was only 10 years old.”

The witness, referred to only as A7, has also described how he was abused by a teacher called David Higgins at Knowl View.

He told how Higgins groped him in his sleeping bag on camping trips, and also in the student dormitory, and also took photos of him while he was naked in the shower.

One incident saw the teacher lying on top of the boy, attempting to kiss him, before he managed to run off crying, the inquiry heard.

Higgins was jailed in 2002 for sexual offences involving Knowl View boys.

The witness also said that a female housekeeper at the school had taught him how to “French kiss” and had bought him gifts, as well as inviting him to her home.

And he told the inquiry that he was frequently sexually abused by a gang of older boys at the school.

Mr Altman asked why A7 did not report the allegations of abuse, involving Smith and the housekeeper, to the authorities until around 20 years later.

The witness said: “There was no point really because no-one would listen to you.”

The inquiry heard how Lancashire Police, in the early 70s, investigated Smith and recommended a series of charges concerning Smith and pupils at Knowl View and Cambridge House, a Rochdale hostel.

But the-then Director of Public Prosecution, Sir Norman Skelhorn, ruled the allegations were not legally sound and the inquiry was later closed.