New allegations of sexual abuse by ex-Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith while he was a school governor have been uncovered.
Detectives have identified seven new victims that claim to have been abused by the 29 stone Liberal Democrat grandee, who died in 2010.
The allegations centre around physical and sexual abuse which was carried out by Smith at the Knowl View School in his Rochdale constituency in Greater Manchester.
Six relate to abuse at the school itself where pupils were as a young as eight while a seventh allegation relates to an incident ‘off site’ at an undisclosed location.
Police are thought to have interviewed four of the complainants who say Smith molested them.
Two others are currently in secure psychiatric units and the seventh is yet to speak to officers.
It is not believed the victims were connected to a string of other boys who were abused by Smith in the 1960s, in his role as secretary of the Rochdale Hostel for Boys Association.
The politician had been accused of abusing eight youngsters at Cambridge Hostel in the town by taking down their trousers, spanking their bare bottoms and touching them during ‘medical examinations’, at the time he was a councillor.
Police had recommended Smith be taken to court on three different occasions in 1970, 1998 and 1999 but prosecutors decided no further action should be taken due to ‘suspect evidence’.
Yesterday, it emerged Smith is now one of 21 suspects – nearly all former staff at Knowl View – who are being investigated following complaints from ex-pupils.
Police know the names of 14 but the full identities of seven others remain a mystery and t is not known how many of the suspects are still alive.
Police are investigating a total of ten complaints from former Knowl View pupils against different ex-staff members – none of whom have been arrested.
Rochdale Council have launched a QC led investigation examining if there was a cover up during the original investigations into Smith, who died aged 84 in 2010.
The inquiry into Knowl View – which closed in 1994 – is one of several being conducted into children’s homes across Manchester.
It is linked to an old investigation, Operation Cleopatra, during which Greater Manchester Police identified 536 potential abuse suspects who operated at council run care homes and hostels between 1997 and 2002.
At the time of the operation, just 12 suspects were charged and of those just seven – including a children’s services boss – were convicted and jailed.
Senior officers said the latest inquiry into Smith had become ‘profoundly complicated’ with former complainants from the Cleopatra operation coming forward again after the Jimmy Saville scandal.
Seven victims also came forward after an appeal for information by lawyers acting on behalf of the complainants.
Three men who worked at a house in Didsbury, Manchester, have since been arrested and freed on bail.
Detective Chief Superintendent, Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester Police said: “We are working through the allegations and trying to understand if any of these matters form part of the earlier investigations into abuse at care homes, whether they have been investigated already and what action to take next.
“The passage of time makes these investigations difficult and complex but we are committed to supporting victims as best as we can.
“We totally understand that for many people they will not want to relive the abuse they suffered, but for those who do want to come forward I want to give you complete confidence that your complaints will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated.
“Greater Manchester Police takes allegations of abuse very seriously and continues to do so and if anyone has been a victim of abuse, we ask them to contact us.”
In November 2012, Greater Manchester Police formally acknowledged young boys were victims of physical and sexual abuse committed by Smith.
It emerged in March 1970, a file was submitted to the then Director of Public Prosecutions following an investigation in 1969 by Lancashire Police over Smith’s activities at Cambridge House Hostel.
The victims – all from broken homes – had relied on Smith for employment, financial support or some sort of guardianship.
At the time, Lancashire Police recommended Smith be prosecuted, and concluded: “It seems impossible to excuse his conduct.
“Over a considerable period of time, whilst sheltering behind a veneer of respectability, he has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys to whom he had a special responsibility.
“Prima facie, he appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault.”
But just eight days later, the DPP recommended no further action be taken.
A letter to then Chief Constable said: “Any charges of indecent assault founded on these allegations, as well as being somewhat stale, would be, in my view, completely without corroboration.
“Further, the characters of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect.
“In the circumstances, I do not consider that if proceedings for indecent assault were to be taken against Smith, there would be a reasonable prospect of a conviction. I do not, therefore, advise his prosecution.”
In February 1998 during Operation Cleopatra, police received a complaint from one of the victims during 1969’s inquiry, who was unhappy Smith had evaded justice.
A file of evidence was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for a review but in June 1998 police were advised no further action would be taken.
In March 1999, a second file was sent to the CPS by police following two further complaints about Smith’s actions at Cambridge House Hostel between 1962-1965 but no further action was recommended by the CPS.
Lawyers concluded there was sufficient evidence to charge Smith in 1998 but he would not have been convicted because he had been effectively cleared 28 years earlier.
He said there was no new evidence to charge Smith.
Police and CPS lawyers say Smith would have been prosecuted under the current guidelines for dealing with suspected sex offenders.
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