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Only one man to face trial over alleged offences at Cyril Smith-linked school

Published 29/09/2016

Cyril Smith died in 2010
Cyril Smith died in 2010

Only one man will face trial over alleged historical sex offences at a residential school for boys linked with the late politician Cyril Smith, it has been confirmed.

An investigation was set up by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) following reports of both physical and sexual abuse at Knowl View school in Rochdale from 1969 until it closed in 1995.

In April, when GMP announced the charging of a 76-year-old man, it said it had submitted 13 files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with multiple allegations involving 27 suspects and 16 alleged victims of both physical and sexual offences.

It added only one of those files remained under review and on Thursday it confirmed that no further action would be taken in relation to that allegation.

The force added that a further file was submitted in May to the CPS, which advised them last month there was insufficient evidence to support a prosecution over that complaint.

In a statement, GMP said: "Operation Jaguar was launched following reports of both physical and sexual abuse that took place at Knowl View residential school for boys from 1969 until the school closed in 1995.

"Between April 2014 and April 2015, 13 files with multiple allegations were submitted by Greater Manchester Police to the Crown Prosecution Service relating to 27 suspects and 16 (alleged) victims, of both physical and sexual offences.

"In 2016, the CPS communicated their decision to GMP on the final one of the 13 files that was still under review. No further action will be taken in relation to this allegation.

"In May 2016, a further file was submitted to the CPS and in August 2016 the CPS advised that there was insufficient evidence to support a prosecution. No further action will be taken in relation to this allegation."

It added: "Since April 2012, 29 people made complaints to Greater Manchester Police against Cyril Smith, with allegations including sexual assault and rape that took place between 1960 and 1987 at Knowl View, Cambridge House and other locations in the borough of Rochdale.

"These cases will not be taken further as the Crown Prosecution Service does not make hypothetical charging decisions in respect of suspects that are now deceased."

Smith acted as a governor for several schools in Rochdale, including Knowl View, and when he was a town councillor was active on many committees involving youth activities.

He was elected as a Liberal MP in 1972 and became a Liberal Democrat on the formation of the new party before leaving Parliament in 1992. He was knighted in 1988 and died in 2010.

In November 2012, GMP stated that Smith abused young boys in the 1960s in his role as secretary of the Rochdale Hostel for Boys Association. He had been accused of abusing eight youngsters at Cambridge House by spanking and touching them. Three separate files regarding Smith's actions at Cambridge House were previously passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service, although on each occasion no prosecution was pursued.

Current Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, in his book Smile For The Camera: The Double Life Of Cyril Smith, said the 29-stone politician was left free to abuse children as young as eight despite 144 complaints by victims.

:: A 76-year-old man faces trial in December on claims he sexually abused two boys at Knowl View.

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