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Monday 9 March 2015

Kelvin McFilth Cyril Smith Deflection

The weekend’s revelations concerning the late Cyril Smith, for many years Liberal and then Lib Dem MP for Rochdale, initially focused on the advice given to Margaret Thatcher over the risk of awarding him a knighthood. She was warned that Smith had been the subject of accusations - and a Police investigation - concerning his behaviour towards teenage boys in the town’s care homes (see my take on it HERE).
But what was yet more concerning, and bizarre with it, was the potential involvement of the Murdoch press. As the Mail On Sunday told, “Civil servants feared the secret Smith police file might be made public in 1982 – when a burglary at the Fleet Street offices of The Sun newspaper revealed the editor was in possession of a copy. This revelation will lead to speculation that the break-in was linked to attempts to cover up Smith’s crimes”.

Note the form of words used: “revealed the editor was in possession of a copy” of a supposedly secret Police file on the MP. Editing the paper at that time - and infamous for his coverage of the Falklands conflict, that took place at around the same time - was one Kelvin MacKenzie. The news has put Kel, as Spike Milligan might have put it, in a very difficult position. So what does he have to say for himself?
Well, we know his response as Kel is now back at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, albeit only as a columnist. So what does he make of it all? To his credit, Kel does not duck the issue - at least, not initially: “The Mail On Sunday ran an interesting story yesterday … claiming that some 30 years ago, Margaret Thatcher received a secret briefing on the risk of MP Cyril Smith being given a knighthood”. Do go on.

Lord Shackleton … told the then Prime Minister that Smith … had indecently assaulted teenage boys [Kel misses the ‘allegedly’, for some reason]. In his note he added ‘In 1982, following a break-in at The Sun offices, Police inquiries revealed that the editor had a copy of the 1970 Police report [into the allegations]’ … Fascinating stuff”. So would Kel ‘fess up, or what? As if you need to ask.

I was the editor of this fine organ [ha ha ha] at the time. Personally, I don’t remember the break-in at the office - nor does Scotland Yard - or possessing the Smith report, although I may be suffering from brain fade”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, whether he contacted the Met to ask about the case or not (one has to suspect the latter with Kel), the break-in is a matter of record. And two, those not easily swayed by bullshitting former editors will note that there is no denial.

Nor has there been any complaint by the Sun over the recently revealed remarks by Lord Shackleton, who did not caveat his advice to Mrs T. Look at that wording again: “revealed that the editor was in possession of a copy” of the 1970 Police report into Cyril Smith. Kelvin McFilth had that information. And he just sat on it.

Then the Sun slagged off the BBC over Jimmy Savile. You really couldn’t make it up.


Crispin Fisher said...

There must be something in the water at 'The Sun's' headquarters because everybody who has ever worked in the building seems to have problems with selective memory loss.

rob said...

The big question is whether he knew about the break in before it happened.

Funny how sometimes controversial information conveniently goes missing through burglaries. And the perpetrators never seem to get caught.

Did Murdoch owe a favour to Madge over the purchase of The Times in 1981? She it must be remembered is also alleged to have known about Sir Cyril but kept quiet.

News International, politicians, The Met. Haven't we been here before for something completely different? Spooky or what?

SteveB said...

He can't remember being in possesion of a stolen police file that would embarass the prime minister BUT doesn't dismiss it out of hand?? If we rule out dementia etc. that means he really had no idea of what was going on and wasn't doing the job he was paid for OR they had so many dodgy files it was hard to keep track of them.

rob said...

@ SteveB

The Brooks defence? Except in her case it was bad memory and dodgy journalists she couldn't keep track of?

MisterMuncher said...

I've heard contentions from a number of different sources that Sun possessed similar dope on Savile, but retained it for blackmail purposes.

Anonymous said...

Information is power, especially if you are able to release it strategically. If you are a newspaper whose top columnist has just resigned in protest at the paper's unethical behaviour, you can always publish something about MPs with their troughs in the snout because

- it makes it look as if the paper actually does expose corruption

- it reminds potential targets that the paper might have information in the office safe.