[Update at end of post]
JOHN WALKER SETS THE SCENE
Regular Zelo Street readers will already know about the dubious veracity of at least part of Smile For The Camera, the book fronted by Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk, but probably written by his then side-kick Matt Baker, about Cyril Smith. The claim that Northants Police had pulled Smith over on the M1 with a stash of child porn in his car fell through after neither Danczuk, nor Baker, could stump up any evidence.
But there are parts of the book that are at least based on fact, and that may be explained by seeing how it came to be written. Until prompted by John Walker, formerly of Rochdale Alternative Press, the paper whose revelations were more widely publicised by Private Eye in 1979, and Paul Waugh, who, with Walker’s assistance, ran a piece "Cyril Smith - some justice at last?" on 27 November 2012, on PoliticsHome, Danczuk had not been involved.
How that involvement began, and progressed, can now be revealed, after John Walker made available a number of emails and documents which have now arrived on Zelo Street. As he personally devised the idea of writing a book, and drove the project forward until Matt Baker became involved, it is only right that he set the scene.
This is what John Walker has to say about Simon Danczuk, and his dealings with him.
“[The House of] Commons was holding a debate on current child abuse and grooming on that day [27 November 2012], and … Simon Danczuk - because of the on-going position in Rochdale - had preferential speaking rights in the debate.
Prior to Paul's publication that day, out of courtesy, he contacted Danczuk to forewarn him of his article about his predecessor as Rochdale's MP..
Quite rightly, Danczuk seized on this and mentioned it in the Commons debate. This lead to a great deal of press attention. I contacted Danczuk, to see if he was interested in co-authoring a book on the subject (me to write - him to front). He was very enthusiastic, we had at least two meetings in the Commons, and one over the Christmas break in his [redacted] flat. He set about finding an agent and I wrote a lengthy synopsis. Danczuk was keen for me to travel to Rochdale to meet his press officer, Matthew Baker, who he said would be a key contact, locally.
Meanwhile, we met the agent and two days later I traveled to Rochdale to meet Baker. Baker was totally unco-operative and Danczuk turned up, embarrassed, shuffled about and I left - smelling a rat. A few days later, I got an e.mail from Danczuk saying that he's changed his mind and wanted to go down another (unspecified) route. In the event, this was ditching me, with Baker to do the writing (using much of the material I supplied). Danczuk skilfully skirts over this in the book, by simply crediting me for encouraging him to write the book, in its introduction!
Danczuk thanks the same agent that we met for her assistance in the publishing process, in the introduction to the book” [My emphases].
Walker concludes “So, incredible as it may seem, 35 years after we first named Smith as a sexual abuser of young men, we and Private Eye still remain the ONLY publications to have named ANY living politician with regard to child sex abuse.
There's lots of high-minded indignation and moral outrage spewed over acres of newsprint on almost a weekly basis, by newspapers, and others, who claim to be the guardians of the public, seekers of the truth, uncoverers of scandal, abuse etc. BUT, not one of them has exposed a single living politician, over what all are agreed is a major scandal!
Danczuk parades as a campaigner, battling against child abuse in high places. Yet he has not named a single living person - lots of allusions, but no names. And he has the weapon of Parliamentary privilege at his disposal”.
So how keen was Simon Danczuk to have John Walker help him write that book? We can see that by perusing the emails that passed between them in the period immediately following that November 2012 Commons intervention.
Zelo Street will publish exclusive extracts from that correspondence very soon.
[UPDATE 29 October 1250 hours: Les May of Northern Voices
has advised he is sure the Commons debate took place on November 13, not 27 as in John Walker's account]
That exposure should finally do for Danksuck's credibility, or what's left of it, which is virtually fuck all.
Genuine investigative journalists like John Walker (and Tim Fenton - no, I'm not brown nosing) don't appear that often. Would that we had more of them.
But what really matters are the issues of organised child abuse and "grooming." My entirely instinctive suspicion is that we have nowhere near plumbed the full depths yet. If we had mainstream media with anything like the determination of Walker and Fenton we might get to the truth a good deal quicker.
Danksuck? Just another tenth rate House of Commons spiv, opportunist and plagiarist. In my unhumble opinion of course.
Well in, Tim. More power to your elbow.
@ Anon no 1
Hear hear! Just another Grant Shapps et al wannabee.
Whilst I have little sympathy for Simon Danzcuk there are things about John Walker and Cyril Smith that I struggle to get my head round.
Why did John Walker sit on the Cambridge House sex abuse allegations for many months before publishing them in RAP during the 1979 general election campaign? He knew about the allegations since the mid 1970s. May 1979 was the absolute latest that Jim Callaghan could go to the polls. Cyril Smith was able to say that the RAP article was a political smear and could could point to the full page Labour Party advert on the back cover as proof. Smith increased his parliamentary majority in 1979.
But the most troubling doubt I have about all this current bile and anger against Simon Danczuk's book is simple - why didn't John Walker carry on campaigning against Cyril Smith's sex abuse and publish regardless? He had a printing press to hand from 1979 until RAP closed some years later? When John Walker left Rochdale and moved to London all those years ago, wasn't he then physically nearer to Westminster and Fleet Street in order to carry on pursuing this gross injustice?
What did John Walker do in the 30 plus years from his revelations in RAP until Cyril Smith's death? There are many issues that have seen dedicated and persistent campaigners carry on until people take notice and act: The Birmingham 6, Stephen Lawrence's family, Blacklisted workers... the examples are many and inspirational. But there seems to have been silence from John Walker for decades, and in those years Cyril Smith got away with it and continued to abuse.
There is a lot to be angry about. The victims who went to their graves never knowing more of the truth about Cyril Smith would finally be national knowledge. Missed opportunities for over 3 decades. How very sad.
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