David Steel says he's not to blame for Cyril Smith and in a way that's true; a lot of people conspired to keep the fat man out of gaol- just as a lot of people (including some of the same people) are currently conspiring to defend other still breathing Elm House perps- but one of the things that happens (should happen) when you're made boss of an outfit is that you take responsibility for the fuck-ups that occur on your watch. It's the down side of privilege: if you get to be the public face of an organization you also get to answer for its mistakes. In societies with a highly developed sense of honour the man at the top reaches for his revolver or his disembowelling knife. In a society without a sense of honour- like ours- he goes, "but I didn't do it" like a whiny kid.
Steel is suing the Mail for suggesting he take responsibility for Smith. He may even win, but that won't change things. Posterity is unimpressed by court judgements; it sees through them- and if it remembers Steel at all it will remember him as the party boss who tolerated Smith. The only way Steel can soften that judgement is by dropping the brat act and saying sorry.
That's all we want to hear from him at this point in time. We don't care about his blessed reputation (because what has he ever done that's of lasting significance?) All we want from him is an apology.