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The Independent Police Complaints Commission has decided to manage an investigation into an allegation that Greater Manchester Police failed to adequately investigate an incident involving former MP Cyril Smith in Stockport in 1988.
The investigation follows an article in the Manchester Evening News reporting an allegation by a former police officer that he found Smith and a police officer in plain clothes in the home of a known sex offender with two teenage boys. The former officer claims shortly after the incident he was threatened with the Official Secrets Act by a senior officer if he said anything.
The allegation will now form part of Greater Manchester Police's ongoing Operation Clifton, a criminal investigation launched in July 2014, into how previous reports of child sexual abuse were handled or allegedly covered up. The IPCC will manage how this specific allegation is investigated.
The IPCC's involvement will ensure independent oversight of the investigation, while ensuring Greater Manchester Police's wider ongoing criminal investigation is not affected.
A former police officer claims he was threatened with the Official Secrets Act after he found Cyril Smith in the home of a known sex offender with young boys present.
The officer, who has not been named, told the Manchester Evening News he was ordered, ‘in no uncertain terms’, to say nothing about it.
Smith, the former Rochdale MP who died in 2010, sexually and physically abused young boys.
Both Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said if Smith had been accused today he would be charged and prosecuted.
“I want to make an appeal for anyone who has information about the way the authorities including Greater Manchester police dealt with reports of child abuse to come forward.
“I also appeal to victims who suffered abuse in care homes and other institutions who made complaints then or have suffered in silence and not reported what they went through to consider contacting the police or indeed one of the children's or survivors charities.
Anyone with information which could help Operation Clifton, the investigation into Smith's activities, is urged to call Greater Manchester Police's incident room on 0161 856 0310 or the Police Complaints Commission.
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What is really significant about the launch of the investigation into the cover-up claims involving the Metropolitan Police is the range of allegations - 14 referrals spanning four decades.
The police watchdog said the allegations were of "high-level corruption".
This is significant but investigators leading this have no idea where or when this might all now end.
The IPCC probe into an alleged cover up at the Metropolitan Police of child sex offences arose from Operation Fairbank.
Operation Fairbank is an investigation into alleged historic Westminster paedophile ring.
A Met Police spokesman said: "The Independent Police Complaints Commission have today announced they will manage the investigations by the Metropolitan Police Service's directorate of professional standards, concerning historic allegations of impropriety by police officers when dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.
"The allegations emerged whilst officers were working on Operation Fairbank and relate to the period between 1970 - 2005.
"The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) recognised the severity of the allegations, and the importance of understanding whether or not our officers had in the past acted inappropriately, and therefore voluntarily referred the 16 separate allegations to the IPCC.
"Ongoing investigations and recent convictions by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command have shown that the MPS is fully committed to investigating non-recent allegations of sexual abuse."
The police watchdog is investigating claims that Scotland Yard covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it is investigating 14 referrals detailing alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police which relate to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s.
The allegations include:
- Suppressing evidence
- Hindering or halting investigations
- Covering up the offences because of the involvement of members of parliament and police officers.
Sarah Green, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: "These allegations are of historic, high level corruption of the most serious nature. We will oversee the investigations and ensure that they meet the terms of reference that we will set.
"Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people of our absolute commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission today said it is to investigate alleged corruption within the Metropolitan Police, including allegations it covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.