Cyril Smith: MP, Paedophile and Asbestos Stooge 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Sir Cyril Smith, the Liberal Democrat MP who represented Rochdale from 1972 to 1992 stands condemned as a “paedophile sadist,”1 “a predatory paedophile and a prolific offender who would target the most vulnerable boys”2 in the media and the court of public opinion. Allegations of sexual abuse and political cover-ups seem to be surfacing on an almost daily basis and prompt questions of how such a high-profile figure was able to escape justice for so long.

A less well-known unsavory fact about the MP was his close, some might say intimate, association with the UK asbestos giant: Turner and Newall Ltd. (T&N), a company which was a large employer in his constituency. As confidential corporate documents reveal, the MP’s relationship with the corporate giant was up-close and personal. Not only did Smith own 1,300 T&N shares,3 but he addressed company directors by their first names (see: handwritten note to TBA Director Sidney Marks, October 10, 1981), had dinners with them and willingly connived to progress the corporate agenda. On August 5, 1981, Smith wrote to Sidney Marks, Director of Turner Brothers Asbestos Ltd., a T&N subsidiary, to inform him that an asbestos debate would take place in the House of Commons in October 1981 (see: letter to Sidney Marks, August 5, 1981). Smith asked for instructions about what he should say:

“Could you please, within the next eight weeks, let me have the speech you would like to make (were you able to) in the Debate? In particular, points of disagreement with EEC documentation, points to urge, etc.”

Needless to say T&N was more than happy to do as Smith had requested. Correspondence between the MP and T&N personnel bounced to and fro over the weeks prior to the debate. A September 2, 1981 version of “The Suggested Speech by Mr. Cyril Smith in forthcoming debate in the House of Commons on EEC Directive on Asbestos-containing Materials” is informative (see: Suggested Speech by Cyril Smith). A comparative analysis of T&N’s final version and the text of Smith’s October 22, 1981 House of Commons speech4 reveal that the two were virtually identical.5 Smith’s reading of the asbestos company’s 2,700-word briefing took around twenty-seven minutes and absorbed about 15% of the time allocated for the Commons debate on the proposed EEC asbestos regulations.

Comments made by Smith during the debate are indicative of the MP’s support for the asbestos company:

  • “the company concernedTBA Industrial Products Ltd.has a… proud history in safety working in asbestos.”
  • “Let it be absolutely clear that that [banning asbestos] would cause the loss of thousands of jobs in the country generally, and hundreds in my constituency.”
  • “Over the years the risks for the worker in the [asbestos] industry have been considerably reduced. I emphasise the word ‘reduced,’ because they have not been eliminated. But one must ask whether it is possible to eliminate all risks from most processing industries, not simply asbestos.”
  • “Asbestos is part of the earth's surface… It is difficult, however, to imagine that the use of asbestos will ever be eliminated…properly used, asbestos protects and saves lives.”
  • “Any substitute considered as such should be regarded as potentially dangerous…”
  • “The United Kingdom has done more to achieve safety standards in asbestos working than has any other country. We are teachers in this regard, and we should be proud of that fact... I hope that in addition to myself other Opposition Members will have the courage to praise the industry for the work that it has done and for the fact that it leads the world.”

One can well imagine the anticipation T&N’s four executives must have felt as they took the seats reserved for them by Smith in the Public Gallery. As the MP parroted T&N’s words, the future for asbestos profiteers must have looked rosy.6 And so it was. The UK did not ban asbestos until 1999, eighteen years after Smith’s robust defence of the killer industry echoed around the Commons chamber. To round off a red letter day for asbestos stakeholders, Smith, TBA Chairman David Hills, Managing Director Brian Heron and two other T&N directors adjourned for a celebratory dinner (see: handwritten note to T&N Director Sidney Marks October 10, 1981) hosted by Smith in the House of Commons. The MP and his guests had a long and prosperous future ahead of them; for their victims, the future held illness, disability and premature death. Cyril Smith’s defence of an industrial killer responsible for thousands if not millions of asbestos-related deaths in the UK and abroad and his abuse of vulnerable children in his constituency and elsewhere were as despicable as they were unforgiveable.

July 23, 2014


1 The small mind of Sir Cyril Smith, paedophile. November 14, 2012.
Simon Danczuk Intervention in debate on Child Sexual Exploitation. Hansards. November 13, 2012.

2 Jones C. MP defends book on Cyril Smith. April 15, 2014.

3 Sir Cyril Smith obituary. September 3, 2010.

4 The October 22, 1981 House of Commons asbestos debate as reported in Hansards is at:

5 Harwood J. Cyril Smith accused of being part of asbestos cover up. August 29, 2008.

6 Did T&N write Cyril Smith's 1981 speech on asbestos? September 17, 2008.



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