Burns Night. A time for the Scottish diaspora and friends to join together in thanks and remembrance.
Back in the 1960's a group of young Scottish lads came down to Rochdale. They were apprentices at a local engineering firm called Whipp & Bourne. Some stayed at a hostel called Cambridge House. Hundreds of miles from home, were these young Scots greeted by the Cup of Kindness?
According to an investigation by RAP in May 1979, some of these vulnerable young lads were subjected to repeated sexual abuse from local politician Cyril Smith.
After the publication of “The Strange Case of Cyril Smith”, RAP was never sued for libel. In fact a Scottish MP was quoted to have said in 1979- “all we are talking about is a few smacked bottoms”. This from the same David Steel who later made a name for himself as the first Speaker in the new Scottish Parliament.
In the 1970's the decade after Smith is alleged to have groped, spanked and abused these young Scottish lads, he was photographed being fitted for an oversized kilt for a Burns Night held at Rochdale Town Hall. At the height of his fame as rolly-polly celebrity MP, the telly's Ronnie Corbett was a guest, laughing and chatting with the grossly obese Smith.
In the same way that young Master Hennigan now does not see the people who serve his food and drive him around, Smith was blind to those on that celebrity Burns Night who were disgusted about the Cambridge House allegations.
How did serious sexual abuse allegations get swept under the carpet in Rochdale?
As with some of the poor innocent wretches of Knowl View residential school, some victims emigrated. Those with long and terrible memories went as far afield as Australia. But some stayed in Rochdale.
Those events from a time when Smith was a relatively young and influential politician still burn bright in the memory of some.
Some Auld Acquaintances shall never be forgot.
For those young Scottish lads, now old men, truth and justice must be delivered.