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  1. ITV Report

Former Borders MP quits Lib Dems in wake of child sex abuse inquiry

David Steel has quit the Liberal Democrats and will retire from the House of Lords in the wake of a sex abuse inquiry Credit: Press Association

Former Borders MP David Steel has quit the Liberal Democrats and will retire from the House of Lords after an independent inquiry highlighted his failure to pass on child sex abuse allegations.

The report published today accused 81-year-old Lord Steel of an "abdication of responsibility" for failing to act on allegations about late MP Sir Cyril Smith's sexual interest in children.

Smith - who died in 2010 - was investigated by police in 1969 over claims he sexually abused teenage boys at a hostel in Rochdale.

Lord Steel led the Liberal Party from 1976-1988. Last year he told the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse inquiry how he failed to pass on allegations against Sir Cyril, even though he believed them to be true, because it was "past history".

He later recommended Smith for a knighthood.

"I have received indications that some in the Liberal Democrat Party wish me suspended and investigated again, despite a previous disciplinary process in Scotland which concluded that no further action was required," Lord Steel said.

"I am told that others are threatening to resign if a new investigation is started.

"I wish to avoid any such turmoil in my party and to prevent further distress to my family. I have therefore thanked my local party secretary for their stalwart support through the whole IICSA process, and have informed the local party that my resignation is with immediate effect."

He added: "As to membership of the House of Lords, friends and colleagues including The Lord Speaker are aware that I have been contemplating retirement next month to coincide with the 55th anniversary of my election as an MP.

"With considerable personal sorrow, and thanks to all I have worked with in the party and more widely, I have now decided this is what I should do as soon as possible.

"My wife has suffered poor health this past year. I shall now stop the weekly travel from Scotland to London and enjoy a quiet retirement from public life."