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Lord Steel suspended: Liberal Democrats investigate peer after evidence to child sex abuse inquiry on Cyril Smith

The Independent logo The Independent 5 days ago Zamira Rahim
David Steel wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

David Steel has been suspended from the Scottish Liberal Democrats over remarks he made to the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse about Cyril Smith.

The former Liberal leader told the inquiry that he had asked the late MP about allegations of child sexual abuse in 1979.

He said he had come away from the conversation "assuming" the allegations were true but took no further action, as Mr Smith was not a member of the party at the time.

The peer denied he had been "hiding his head in the sand" over Cyril Smith's alleged crimes.

"Following the evidence concerning Cyril Smith given by Lord Steel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on 13th March 2019 the office bearers of the Scottish Liberal Democrats have met and agreed that an investigation is needed," a spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said.

"The party membership of Lord Steel has been suspended pending the outcome of that investigation.

"That work will now commence. It is important that everyone in the party, and in wider society, understands the importance of vigilance and safeguarding to protect people from abuse, and that everyone has confidence in the seriousness with which we take it.

"We appreciate the difficult work that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is doing on behalf of the victims and survivors of abuse, and the country as a whole."

Mr Steel was suspended following a meeting of senior party figures on Thursday evening.

Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said officials had taken "absolutely the right decision".

The Liberal Democrats had earlier announced disciplinary proceedings against Mr Steel, over his remarks.

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