Rochdale MP calls for Cyril Smith 'indecent assault' inquiry

Sir Cyril Smith
Image caption Sir Cyril Smith was the Liberal MP for Rochdale from 1972 to 1992

The MP for Rochdale has called for a "full investigation" into allegations that Sir Cyril Smith, the town's former MP, indecently assaulted boys in care.

Simon Danczuk said claims against the late MP had "circulated for years".

Lancashire Police said an investigation was "believed" to have taken place in the 1960s, but "no records are held".

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Danczuk said police "should consider reopening the case". Sir Cyril's brother said the late MP had denied the allegations.

Three former residents of the home made sworn statements to a solicitor alleging Sir Cyril, a senior Labour councillor at the time, spanked and inappropriately touched them during the 1960s.

Barry Fitton, who first made an allegation of being abused by Sir Cyril in a signed affidavit in 1979, said he welcomed the call for a new investigation.

Mr Fitton, who waived his right to anonymity, said he had "kept looking at the news over the past few weeks when there were all these stories about child abuse [and] kept wondering if Cyril Smith would be mentioned".

"I'm really glad that someone now wants it all reopened - it's about time," he said.

During a debate, Labour MP Mr Danczuk said the alleged victims had been "young boys who were humiliated, terrified and reduced to quivering wrecks by a 29 stone bully imposing himself on them".

'No records'

Image caption Mr Danczuk said the allegations made by "the victims are quite clear"

Manchester-based solicitors Pannone confirmed it was currently dealing with an allegation of abuse against Sir Cyril, who died in 2010, and Mr Danczuk said he had been approached by a man "angry and upset about how Cyril Smith treated him".

Both the Lancashire police force, which had jurisdiction over Rochdale at the time, and the Greater Manchester force said they had received no new allegations.

A spokesman for the Lancashire force said they "believe there was an investigation in the late 1960s, but as no records are now held, it cannot be ascertained whether a file was passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions".

A spokesman for the Director of Public Prosecutions said the office had "no record of any files on Cyril Smith" but added any that existed could have been destroyed.

Sir Cyril, who was knighted in 1988, was the Liberal MP for Rochdale from 1972 to 1992.

His brother Norman Smith said the resurfacing of the allegations has been "very painful".

'Malicious rumours'

"Lancashire Police said there was no case to answer and he denied it to me.

"Anybody that raises things when a man's dead, to be blunt I think they're cowards.

"[Simon Danczuk] is only raising it because he's Labour and Cyril was a Liberal, so he's getting at the Liberal party really."

Paul Rowen, Rochdale's Liberal Democrat MP until the 2010 election, said: "What should happen in my view is that if Simon [Danczuk] has any evidence it should be presented to police and anybody else who claims to have evidence, that's the proper course.

"Rochdale's in the midst of the worst child grooming cases that we have had for a generation.

"If the current MP for Rochdale is doing anything, he should be doing something about the systematic failure of safeguarding and protection of young people now and not bothering about malicious rumours that were made 50 years ago."

Nine men from Rochdale and Oldham were jailed in May for running a child sexual exploitation ring and Rochdale Borough Council was criticised for failing to protect girls in care.

Mr Danczuk said the "culture of cover-up stretches back much further than the recent grooming scandal and extends right to the heart of our political establishment".

"If we're to make sure victims of child abuse are sufficiently empowered to claw back some of the dignity that's been taken from them then we need to be open about a widespread abuse of power in our borough."

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