Police appeal in Cyril Smith probe


Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Police investigating a suspected cover up of sex crimes by Sir Cyril Smith have appealed for information after a retired officer claimed he was told “keep your mouth shut” over the politician.

The unnamed officer said he found Smith in the home of a known sex offender with two teenage boys.

But he alleges he was threatened with the Official Secrets Act and ordered by a senior officer to say nothing about it.

And the retired officer also revealed just four weeks ago he received an anonymous call from a man who said: “There may be an investigation – keep your mouth shut”, he told the Manchester Evening News.

A Scotland Yard investigation into child sex parties in London in the 1980s snared Smith but the probe was dropped, the MP released from custody and officers warned to keep quiet or again face prosecution for giving away state secrets, according to BBC TV’s Newsnight programme.

Smith, who died in 2010, was the subject of allegations and investigations over decades during his career, first as a prominent local councillor in Rochdale and later as the town’s Liberal MP. He was never prosecuted.

The latest allegations involve a former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer who called at a house in Stockport in 1988 after a complaint that the occupier had been committing a lewd act in his window in front of a newspaper boy.

The then Rochdale MP was there, together with a police officer in civilian clothes and two teenage boys – one a runaway from a children’s home.

The officer told the Manchester Evening News: “I had been in the force about six months. The occupier was about 70 and seemed an old grandad type. In the house was Cyril Smith and a police sergeant in civilian clothes. The officer identified himself and showed his warrant card, saying he was there ‘on other business’.

“There seemed to be a party going on, with two young lads there. Smith and the officer left. The boys, aged about 14 to 15, were drunk.”

After the elderly man was arrested and cautioned, the officer found he had a long record for sex offences.

The next day he said he was called to a meeting by a senior officer and was told “In no uncertain terms” he was to say nothing about it and the matter was “all in hand”.

Two months later he was rewarded with a police driving course.

So far 23 alleged victims have made complaints against Smith to GMP about his activities between 1960 and 1987 at two schools or hostels for troubled teenage boys in Rochdale, Knowl View and Cambridge House.

The alleged offences range from sexual assault to rape.

Seven more sex offences are alleged to have happened at other locations in the borough of Rochdale.

Today assistant chief constable Ian Wiggett of GMP said: “These allegations will be examined by Operation Clifton, a criminal investigation launched by GMP in July 2014, into how previous reports of child sexual abuse were handled or allegedly covered up.

“Clearly there are people who are willing to talk to the media but who have not yet spoken to police.

“I want to make an appeal for anyone who has information about the way the authorities including Greater Manchester police dealt with reports of child abuse to come forward.

“GMP has allocated considerable resources to Operation Clifton, and we are committed to investigate all the allegations as best we can.

“As part of Operation Clifton we have already interviewed a large number of people and still have numerous inquiries to undertake. We are speaking to everyone no matter what status they have held or still hold to get to the truth.

“Greater Manchester Police has no interest in covering up any of these issues and indeed many of the current members of the force were not serving at the time when some of this is alleged to have occurred.”

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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