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Nick Clegg defends party in Sir Cyril Smith furore

Rochdale's Liberal MP, Cyril Smith pictured in 1974. Credit: PA Archive

Nick Clegg as sought to distance the Liberal Democrats from the "repugnant" allegations against former MP Sir Cyril Smith, insisting that the party never knew of his actions.

At a Westminster press conference the Lib Dem leader insisted his party was unaware of the "truly horrific" actions carried out by Sir Cyril.

Asked if there should be an independent inquiry into what the party knew he said: "These are incredibly serious revelations, repugnant ones, about Cyril Smith. They stretch back to the 1950s, the 1960s.

"My party, the Liberal Democrats, did not know about these actions. It's up to the police - these are very serious matters which the police may well want to look into and it will be up to the police to conduct those investigations. They are the right people to look into these things."

More: Cable: Allegations of Cyril Smith cover up 'very serious'

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Cable: Allegations of Cyril Smith cover up 'very serious'

File photo dated 01/05/91 of the late Sir Cyril Smith. Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

Business Secretary Vince Cable has spoken about the "horrific" allegations that the late MP Sir Cyril Smith sexually and physically abused young boys in the 1960s, saying that the suggestion of an establishment cover up was "very serious".

Speaking as one of the guests on The Agenda with Tom Bradby on ITV tonight, Mr Cable said:

“It is horrific, it is really horrible. Let’s remember this was a very long time ago. We’re talking 40-50 years ago. This is the Saville era. I mean I was actually a member of the labour party when all of this happened. I’ve no personal recollection of it.”

More: Young boys 'were victims of abuse' by Sir Cyril Smith

When questioned on whether the case was an establishment cover up, Cable commented:

“That’s the suggestion, I mean these are allegations. They are very serious. This is criminal paedophilia on a very large scale. It’s absolutely awful.”

The Agenda with Tom Bradby is on ITV tonight at 10:35pm.

Get involved in the debate during the show using the hashtag #theagenda and following @agendaitv.

'At least 11 potential suspects' in Rochdale abuse probe

Police have said they are looking at a possible 11 suspects over abuse at a school linked to the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith.

Smith allegedly abused boys in the 1960s when he was secretary of a hostel in Rochdale in Lancashire.

Greater Manchester Police said seven people had now come forward to say they were abused at Knowl View school, where Smith served as chairman of the governors.

Cyril Smith is accused of abusing young boys when he worked at a hostel in Rochdale Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The council-run school for vulnerable boys was shut down in mid 1990s.

Detective Inspector Caroline Ward said GMP were looking at "at least 11 potential suspects" in relation to alleged abuse at Knowl View "from the 1970s onwards".

Lib Dems: Smith abuse claims 'abhorrent'

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":

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.

– Liberal Democrat spokesperson

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'Numerous attempts were made to expose' Cyril Smith

Greater Manchester Police have admitted: "We need to be both realistic and frank that as [Sir Cyril] Smith is no longer alive, we will not be able to bring any criminal prosecution against him."

But the force is continuing to encourage anyone who believes they were a victim to contact them:

I would stress that if you do want to speak to someone, your information will be treated with the appropriate sensitivity and in total confidence

If we receive any evidence that anyone was complicit in the abuse that is still alive today, we will of course investigate that thoroughly.

Lastly, I want to add my sympathies to anyone who was a victim of sexual or physical abuse by Sir Cyril Smith.

Having reviewed the full history of this case, I am satisfied that numerous attempts were made to expose his activities but for various reasons this did not happen.

That will be of little comfort to the people who were brave enough to recall their traumatic experiences, but will never see justice done in court.

However, I hope that by publicly acknowledging what happened 50 years ago it will give those people some sense of justice.

Police: Dead MP should have been charged with abuse

Greater Manchester Police have said the dead Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith should have been charged with physically and sexually abusing young boys:

"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.

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