Council chiefs and police have said they will investigate claims of a cover-up of widespread sexual abuse said to involve the late politician Sir Cyril Smith.
Allegations that were made in a recently published book by Rochdale's Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who claimed the town's former Liberal Democrat MP raped a number of young boys at a residential school.
Police, spies and politicians helped to hide the historical child abuse carried out by Smith, according to Mr Danczuk's book Smile For The Camera: The Double Life Of Cyril Smith.The 29-stone politician was left free to abuse children as young as eight despite 144 complaints by victims, he and co-author Matthew Baker said.Rochdale Council today appointed a deputy high court judge to independently look into claims that sexual or physical abuse of children took place at premises owned, managed, operated or funded by the council from 1961 to 1995.
It will also look into the activities of council officers or employees, councillors and council-appointed school governors who were involved with those premises.During the 1960s, Sir Cyril - when he was a local councillor in the town - acted as a governor for several schools and was active on many council committees involving youth activities.Neil Garnham QC has been tasked by the council to identify whether there was a pattern to such abuse, whether it was "tolerated, facilitated or promoted by the council or its officers and staff", and whether there was a culture at the council which "inhibited the proper investigation, exposure and prevention of such abuse".
Any evidence of criminal activity uncovered will be passed to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) which is currently investigating historical allegations of abuse at Knowl View School - where Smith was said to have held a set of keys to the establishment where he served as a governor and later as chairman of governors.It is understood a total of nine people 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.