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Rochdale Council 'welcomes' new investigation into potential cover-up of Cyril Smith abuse

Linda Fisher, Acting Chief Executive, Rochdale Borough Council:

“The historic activities at Knowl View and any subsequent accusations of wrong doing must be fully examined and Rochdale Borough Council very much welcomes the investigation by GMP police.

“We will continue to co-operate fully with the force’s inquiries making all information available.

“This is a positive step on the road to resolution and we are pleased the Force has acted swiftly to launch a criminal investigation.

“The people of Rochdale, the Council and most importantly the victims, need to have confidence in the process and faith that the truth will be discovered and any necessary actions taken.

“Our own independent review, being carried out by Neil Garnham QC, will recommence when this is deemed appropriate and in agreement with GMP.”

Police to investigate whether authorities in Rochdale covered-up abuse at Knowl View

by Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter
knowl view cyril smith abuse
Knowl View school closed in 1994 Credit: ITV Granada

Greater Manchester Police is to launch a new investigation into whether reports of abuse by Cyril Smith and others were covered-up by the authorities in Rochdale.

The independent inquiry will be separate from the investigation underway into alleged abuse at Knowl View school. The investigation announced today will focus on how reports of child abuse by were handled by local authorities, namely Rochdale Council and local Police forces.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett from GMP, said: “Following the publication of MP Simon Danczuk's book 'Smile for the Camera’, GMP conducted an assessment of the allegations contained within that book. As a result of the assessment, GMP decided that a criminal investigation was required.

“This also followed consultation with Rochdale Council and the QC conducting the independent inquiry on their behalf. The council asked Neil Garnham QC to suspend his independent review and he has agreed to do so.

“The GMP investigation will now seek to identify whether any offences have been committed in the way that previous reports of abuse were handled or allegedly covered up.

“The main concerns relate to the response to child abuse over several decades connected to Knowl View School in Rochdale.

“We have consulted with the Home Office in relation to the national inquiry that has been announced into how organisations responded to child abuse, but as these matters relate to criminal allegations in the GMP area, the responsibility to investigate them falls to the Chief Constable.

“We are aware that some of the allegations relate to the past involvement of police officers, and therefore we have referred those matters to the IPCC. In addition, we have established an independent oversight panel to demonstrate the independence and rigour of the investigation that we will be conducting.

“If there are further allegations that relate to the conduct of police officers, these will similarly be referred to the IPCC, as we are required to do.”

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WATCH: The prison threat that stopped high profile child abusers being revealed

An investigative journalist claims he was threatened by the former MP Cyril Smith, and then raided by police, to stop him revealing the names of politicians who were trying to legalise sex with children.

Don Hale was editor of the Bury Messenger in the 1980s.

He says he was told he'd go to prison if he printed a story based on a dossier of Westminster documents.

He's given his first broadcast interview on the revelations to Ashley Derricott:

Rochdale council suspends abuse independent review

In order not to interfere with any potential police investigation we have agreed to temporarily suspend our independent review.

The council is determined to complete a thorough and transparent examination of the events when it is possible to do so.

In the meantime we await to hear how GMP's wider investigation will proceed.

We also welcome the announcement by the Home Secretary Theresa May of an independent inquiry to look into historic cases of child sexual abuse.

– Linda Fisher, Acting Chief Executive Rochdale Borough Council

Breakthrough for campaigners calling for abuse investigation

The Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a comprehensive review into the handling of allegations of child sex abuse involving senior politicians at Westminster in the 1980s.

It follows a campaign by the Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk. He's welcomed news of an "overarching inquiry" into how public bodies have dealt with abuse claims over the years.

Alison Mackenzie has the story:

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Abuse probe at Rochdale's Knowl View "suspended" as police investigation widens

Knowl View School in Rochdale.

Greater Manchester Police has asked Rochdale Council to suspend its QC-led investigation into alleged abuse at Knowl View School.

The force said a "wider investigation" is required and it's now considering how inquiries should be taken forward.

GMP's Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, said: “Greater Manchester Police have been carrying out an assessment into how allegations of child abuse over several decades involving Knowl View care home in Rochdale have been handled.

“That assessment has now reached the stage where we believe a wider investigation is required.

"Due to the range of local and national bodies involved in the decisions made in the past, the force is now considering how the investigation should be taken forward.

“With this in mind Rochdale Council at the request of GMP has agreed to ask Neil Garnham QC to suspend his independent review until this matter is clarified and he has agreed to do so.”

National

Petition for national inquiry has over 77,000 signatures

An online petition calling for a national inquiry into historic sex abuse allegations in Parliament has gathered over 77,000 signatures.

The petition, launched by Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East in the West Midlands, said if an inquiry does go ahead it must be equipped with the necessary powers to properly delve into the allegations.

He added: "Having talked to a number of survivors and retired child protection specialists I know one thing: if this new inquiry is not given the power to obtain all documents it wants to see, then it won't get anywhere."

National

'Heinous' sex abusers should be brought to justice

Home Office minister Norman Baker has said that the Government has made it clear it wants those responsible for "heinous" historical child sex abuse brought to justice.

Mr Baker said: "We do take these matters extremely seriously and all ministers have made it very plain that we expect the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and others to take all necessary (steps) to bring those responsible for heinous crimes to justice."

He added: "The fact that these matters are getting extra coverage these days, and the fact that the Government has made it very clear that we take these matters seriously, is encouraging people to come forward, including with historical allegations, and that is exactly right.

"We expect the police and Crown Prosecution Service to investigate them properly."

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