Police have acknowledged for the first time that the late politician Cyril Smith sexually and physically abused young boys in the 1960s. Smith, who was elected to Parliament in 1972, was dogged by rumours of abuse throughout his career but charges were never brought.
Both Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said if Smith had been accused today he would be charged and prosecuted.
Our UK Editor Lucy Manning looks at the case.
It means police and the CPS are now admitting three missed opportunities to prosecute Cyril Smith while he was alive and are now saying they should have done so.
In a statement tonight Greater Manchester Police said:
We are now in a position to say that on three separate occasions, files were passed to first the DPP and then the CPS containing details of abuse committed by Smith, but on each occasion no prosecution was pursued.
Having now reviewed those decisions, we believe that if the same evidence was presented to the CPS today there would have been a very realistic prospect that Smith would have been charged with a number of indecent assaults, and that the case would have been brought to trial.
Clearly that is a bold statement to make but it is absolutely important for those victims who were abused by Smith that we publicly acknowledge the suffering they endured.
Although, Smith cannot be charged or convicted posthumously, from the overwhelming evidence we have it is right and proper we should publicly recognise that young boys were sexually and physically abused and we will offer them as much support as they need should they wish to speak to us.
This is the full sequence of past events:
- On 11 March 1970, a file was submitted to the then Director of Public Prosecutions following a thorough investigation in 1969 by Lancashire Police, which detailed allegations from eight young people at Cambridge House Hostel about indecent assaults committed by Sir Cyril Smith
- On 19 March 1970, the DPP recommended no further action be taken
- In February 1998, another Force were conducting a review of care homes in their area and referred a complaint to GMP that was made by one of the original complainants of the 1969 inquiry who was unhappy with the result. This complaint was recorded and investigated by GMP as part of a wider investigation into care homes in Greater Manchester, and a file of evidence was submitted to the CPS for a review
- In June 1998 GMP was advised no further action would be taken
- In March 1999, a second file was sent to the CPS by GMP following two further complaints that were made about Smith's actions at Cambridge House Hostel between 1962-1965. Again, no further action was recommended by the CPS
Earlier this month Rochdale's current MP Simon Danczuk told the House of Commons that a full investigation was needed into the allegations of abuse.
The Liberal Democrats have described the allegations against former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith "abhorrent" and insisted that the party has "never been involved in any allegations":
– LIBERAL DEMOCRAT STATEMENT
Clearly the party does not endorse any person proved to have been involved in incidents such as these.
All allegations should have been investigated thoroughly with the authorities taking whatever action necessary.
Any new allegations should be made to the police.
The Liberal Democrats are not aware of any allegations being made to the party, and have never been involved in any investigations.
The alleged incidents and the reported police investigations took place outside of the time Cyril Smith was a Liberal MP.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk says Cyril Smith's victims have been let down by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions.