Swinson: party has begun a disciplinary investigation into David Steel

Earlier today the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson tweeted the former Liberal Party Leader and Liberal Democrat peer David Steel is facing investigation:
Jo Swinson - David Steel being investigated over Cyril Smith
This news follows the former Liberal Party Leader’s evidence to the Independent Investigation into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) this week, in which:

Lord Steel, the Liberal Democrat peer, has admitted believing in 1979 that child abuse allegations against Sir Cyril Smith were true, but did nothing to assess whether he was a continuing risk to children.

The former Liberal party leader said the late MP for Rochdale confirmed in a conversation that reports of child sexual abuse in the media were accurate…

The hearing heard that Steel passed a recommendation that Smith should receive a knighthood in 1988, which was successful. Steel said he did not mention his conversation about sexual abuse to the honours committee.

“It never occurred to me to tell the honours committee about it. It was all, in a sense, in the public domain through Private Eye,” he said. [The Guardian]

I have occasionally recently highlighted cases involving other parties as a reminder to fellow Liberal Democrats about how important it is that we complete the reforms of our own disciplinary processes – in particular, giving them a robust independent standing.

This case is a reminder from rather closer to home – and let’s hope that the old processes, still currently in place, cope successfully. Whatever the outcome, it needs to be one that is robust, fair and not massively delayed in coming.

UPDATE: David Steel has been suspending, pending the outcome of the investigation.

7 responses to “Swinson: party has begun a disciplinary investigation into David Steel”

  1. That was then; this is now.

    We really cannot assess people acting 40 or more years ago against the standards which apply today.

    Back then, when allegations like this were made, you did not automatically go to any authorities to report it or carry out enquiries, but instead tried to warn those concerned and speak to the person accused to try to end the behaviour.

    I was a teacher around this time and I well remember a laboratory assistant at the school who was the subject of many whispers for allegedly touching children inappropriately and inviting children to his home where he taught musical instruments.

    The Headteacher at the time spoke to him and warned him, but that was an end to it. The teaching staff were told not to talk about it and that there would be serious consequences for us if we ‘spread gossip’.

    That was how such things were dealt with in the 1970s. We cannot pretend otherwise, no matter how awful it appears in retrospect.

  2. I would hope that evidence given on oath to a judicial enquiry constitutes evidence ‘beyond reasonable doubt’

  3. An interpretation of recent reports gives the impression that Cyril Smith admitted to David Steel that he had sexually abused children. Could this really be the case? – I sort of assume that this cannot be the case and that Smith only confirmed that he was subject to an investigation.

  4. Adrian Fox, hang your head in shame for your comments. If Steel had suspicions he should have spoken to to the Police. I am appalled.

  5. I am not sure that Steel acted as properly as he should have done but it is worth pointing out two things. Firstly it is not, as the referenced tweet says AIUI that Smith “confessed” to him according to the Guardian article. Secondly that these matters had been investigated by the police and no prosecution had resulted.

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