21 Nov 2012

Police inquiry launched in Sir Cyril Smith abuse allegations

A new police inquiry launches into allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith.

Cyril Smith (Getty)

Greater Manchester Police said it would be investigating allegations from 1974 onwards that Sir Cyril sexually abused boys at a hostel in Rochdale, whilst Lancashire Police will investigate claims pre-1974.

The investigation follows calls from the Labour MP for Rochdale for a fresh inquiry into claims against Sir Cyril, who died two years ago.

Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Steve Heywood, clarified how the investigation would be divided after confusion created from a redrawing of boundaries in 1974.

“Previously Rochdale was a part of Lancashire Police, but post-1974 it became part of Greater Manchester Police,” he said.

“Therefore, to make it explicitly clear, Greater Manchester Police will now investigate any reports of abuse that happened after 1974, and any abuse that happened before that date will be investigated by Lancashire Police.

“We take all reports of sexual abuse very seriously and we have teams of specially-trained officers who can provide support and guidance if you were a victim. I would therefore ask that if anyone does want to make a complaint about abuse that occurred after 1974, that they go to their nearest police station to report it, or call us on 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

“I can assure you that what you say will be treated in the strictest of confidence and with sensitivity.”

Previous investigation

He also added that the force was looking into “speculation in the media” that Greater Manchester Police has investigated allegations against Sir Cyril in the 1980s and 1990s.

He said: “We are examining our records to see what involvement Greater Manchester Police may have had. However, we need to be clear that some of these allegations are up to 30-years-old and predate our computerised records, so it will take some time to establish what, if any, the force’s involvement was.

“What I can say with clarity is that any fresh complaints that are made will be thoroughly investigated and we will continue to work with our colleagues at Lancashire Police to provide support to any victims who come forward.”

Commons allegations

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk told the House of Commons that two people had come forward with complaints against Sir Cyril, and said that the late MP had punished one resident by bending him over his knee and hitting his naked backside with his bare hand.

He told MPs that the victims had been “reduced to quivering wrecks by a 29 stone bully imposing himself on them”.

Mr Danczuk was back in the House of Commons yesterday to ask Home Secretary Theresa May to clarify issues such as why Sir Cyril had not faced prosecution before, and if MI5 had played a role in silencing allegations.

He said: “Following my comments in the House about Cyril Smith’s abuse of boys, I understand the Crown Prosecution Service has now located investigation files against Mr Smith from the 1960s.

“Can the Home Secretary now look at whether it’s true the director of public prosecutions at the time received a second opinion recommending Smith be prosecuted; why he concluded it was not in the public interest; what role, if any the security service played; and how the government now intends getting to the bottom of what several former police officers are now referring to as ‘a cover-up’?”