If there is ever an example of why capital punishment is wrong, then consider the curious case of Cyril Smith.
A non-story is currently being touted about an oil painting of Cyril that is to have the honour of being hung at Rochdale Town Hall.
As Liberal MP in the 1970's Cyril was a curious, rabid "hang em and flogger". All very illiberal - as if he was in the wrong party.
One of the greatest miscarriages of British justice was that of Rochdale man Stefan Kiszko. Jailed 16 years for a crime he didn't - and couldn't- commit.
As Stefan's MP, Cyril Smith was adamant in the 1970's- the man should hang. The problem with the death sentence is that there can be no successful appeal for the innocent. A short drop can kill the truth - sometimes an inconvenient truth.
Hindsight now shows serious failings of the 1970's police investigation of the murder of Lesley Molseed. Poor Stefan was a scapegoat. Was he fitted-up? Did people who knew better kept quiet?
Those who knew little exploited public fear and outrage for their own benefit.
Cyril probably didn't much thought into his hanging comments about his consitiuent. He had past form for simplistic gut feelings, shallow political opportunism and aggressive sniping.
That is the political legacy of Cyril Smith in Rochdale. Bluff, bullshit and bullying well mixed with cover up, murky deals and secret societies benefitting from the mess.
The allegations about Cyril Smith are clear. A hostel, Cambridge House, was founded in the early 1960's by prominent Rochdale Rotarians. At the time, Cllr Cyril Smith was heavily involved in local politics and youth issues. For some bizarre reason Cyril attended and participated in medical examinations of the young hostel inmates (lads aged 15-17). Cyril Smith has no medical qulaifications but it is alledged he squeezed the young lads' testicles in the guiding presence of the Rochdale police doctor Ian McKichan.
All the shocking allegations of Cyril Smith's sexual abuse were published by Rochdale's Alternative Paper (RAP) and Private Eye in 1979. Cyril Smith NEVER sued.
Imagine you were a young lad in Cambridge House back in the early 1960's. You are an engineering apprentice hundreds of miles from home. A grossly fat politician is known for visiting the hostel late at nights administering his own form of corporal punishment- using his massive frame to drag lads over his knee, pulling their trousers down and spanking their bare bottoms. Then the further humilation of the fat bullying councillor creeping back into your room, as you are crying in the dark, to wipe your enflamed butocks with a wet sponge.
What are you to do? Who do you tell? Who will protect you from sexual abuse?
Who can you trust or turn to for protection and justice? The hostel was founded by local Rotarians- the apparent great and good of the town- influential businessmen and politicians with links to Freemasonry. One founder was Probation Officer Bill Harding. Hard, influencial men ran the hostel. These men were feared by confused young lads who did not know what they had done wrong to deserve this sickening abuse.
How can a young lad, hundreds of miles from home, turn to the police when the influential politician abusing you walks in with the town's police doctor and engages in testicle squeezing? Even a young naive lad could understand the message- this grotesque man, Cyril Smith, can enter freely this hostel and sexually abuse you with impunity. If he can walk in with the police doctor and engage in unqualified medical examinations then he really has you by the balls.
All these years later, justice has not been done. Cyril Smith is heralded by some as a grand benefactor and godfather of our town. He founded the youth charity Rochdale Childer. Local Rotarians have been involved in the commissioning and purchase of oil paintings of Cyril. The NSPCC have benefitted from charity money from their sale.
Although not a pleasant oil painting, the portrait of Cyril, bought for the NSPCC by "silent auction", is to hang in Rochdale town hall?
Is it not a sick, sick world that such perverse historic injustices can be covered up this way?