England

Cyril Smith M1 child abuse probe closes over lack of evidence

Cyril Smith Image copyright Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Image caption The former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith died in 2010

A probe into claims the former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith was found with child abuse images in his car boot has been closed because of a lack of evidence.

It is understood the Liberal MP, who died in 2010, was stopped on the M1 in Northamptonshire during the 1980s.

He was then released after making a telephone call to an unidentified third party in London, it has been claimed.

Northamptonshire Police said no witnesses had been found and no reports of the alleged incident were uncovered.

Five people who came forward to help the investigation offered third-party accounts that could not be used as evidence, police said.

The claims surfaced in a book on Smith written by current Rochdale MP, Labour's Simon Danczuk.

He said the politician, who was the Liberal and then Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992, was arrested, but the material seized by police had disappeared.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Cyril Smith was alleged to have had indecent images of children in his car

Detectives said they interviewed Mr Danczuk, two former chief constables, about 60 police staff, journalist Don Hale who has written extensively about Smith, and several members of the public.

Northamptonshire Police said Special Branch "had undertaken a manual trawl of their archives" and the Crown Prosecution Service had also searched its archives "for relevant information" but had found nothing.

"To date, no witness has been found who saw Smith in custody or was involved in his arrest and no reports of the alleged incident have been uncovered," a statement said.

"Furthermore, no witnesses have been found from Special Branch or any other senior influence, while a primary witness - a canteen worker mentioned in the book - cannot be identified."

The force said the cold case would be reopened if more information came to light.

Image caption The child abuse claims came from Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk

Northamptonshire Police previously said in response to a Freedom of Information request that laws linked to security services prevented it from divulging information it held on Smith.

That triggered speculation that records on the late MP may have been destroyed by or at the request of security services.

A number of men have told Greater Manchester Police they were abused by Smith, whose family has always denied claims of abuse.

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