Cyril Smith: Police investigate alleged cover-up over Rochdale child sex abuse claims

Liberal Democrat MP was a governor at the school in the 1970s

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The Independent Online

At least 11 suspects have been identified by detectives investigating allegations of sexual abuse at a school linked to the Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith, Greater Manchester Police has said.

The historical allegations of abuse at Knowl View School in Rochdale – where the former MP served as a governor – date back more than 30 years. Police have confirmed they are also looking into whether there had been a cover-up.

A total of nine people are understood to have so far come forward to the police to say they were abused by adults at Knowl View from the 1970s onwards. The complaints related to at least 11 potential suspects.

The cover-up claims are made in a new book by the town’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk. It alleged a cover-up by Rochdale council, the police and the security services. Mr Danczuk first revealed details of the MP’s alleged abuse in 2012 during a Commons debate on child sexual exploitation. He claimed a number of victims came forward following the Jimmy Savile affair.

Rochdale Council said it was also widening the scope of its own inquiry into the now-closed residential school in light of Mr Danczuk's book, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy said: “We have identified a number of suspects. New victims have come forward. We have ten or 11 suspects.

“It is in the nature of sex abuse investigations that it takes considerable time to gather evidence from people who have been very damaged from the experience and clearly this is more difficult when matters occurred many years ago.

“We are now appealing for anyone who has information in relation that can assist either investigation - the complaints of historic abuse or a possible cover up - to contact Greater Manchester Police.”

The Liberal Democrats need to answer “serious questions“ about who knew that former MP Sir Cyril Smith faced allegations of sex abuse, the party's president has said.

Tim Farron insisted the police investigation was the best way of dealing with the claims against the politician. It has been alleged Sir Cyril raped boys at Rochdale's Knowl View residential school, which closed in 1992, and abused boys at the privately-run Cambridge House children's care home, which closed in 1965.

Sir Cyril was originally a Labour councillor in Rochdale and later a Liberal then Liberal Democrat MP for the town from 1972 to 1992.