Knowl View abuse: Police appeal to council staff over 'cover-up'

Knowl View School
Image caption More than 20 men allege they were abused at Knowl View between 1969 and 1995

Police investigating an alleged cover-up of historical child abuse at a Rochdale school have appealed to ex-council staff to come forward.

Greater Manchester Police acted after reports people were ordered to shred documents about abuse claims at Knowl View school between 1969 and 1995.

Det Supt Pete Marsh said he had been previously unaware of some of the reported allegations.

He told a press conference they needed evidence and appealed for witnesses.

Allegations 'unknown'

Det Supt Marsh, who is leading the inquiry into allegations of a cover-up, said: "This investigation is wide-ranging and complex, especially when you consider we are dealing with events that took place nearly 25 years ago.

"That said, over the last week it has been reported in the press that agreements were made to cover up abuse and that people were told to shred and destroy documents.

"To be frank, some of the specific allegations I have read were not known to me but are obviously of great interest and we will be following these up."

He said he was interested in speaking to anyone with information including "anyone who worked at the council at the relevant time".

A separate GMP investigation is focusing on the late Rochdale MP Cyril Smith, who allegedly abused 20 teenage boys between 1960 and 1987 at Knowl View, Cambridge House hostel, and others parts of the town.

Despite being subject to allegations and investigations during his career, the Liberal politician was never prosecuted before his death in 2010.

Thirty suspects

Since GMP launched the Knowl View inquiry in 2012, 24 men have claimed they were sexually or physically assaulted between 1969 and the school's closure in 1995.

Police have interviewed 21 men, aged between 35 and 80, under caution but detectives say there are more than 30 suspects who they believe sexually or physically abused pupils.

GMP also launched an investigation earlier this year into whether historical allegations about the school were covered up.

It followed the police's request in July of a suspension of Rochdale Council's independent inquiry into the abuse claims.

GMP have also appointed an independent panel to oversee their investigation into an alleged cover-up at Knowl View.

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