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Rochdale abuse inquiry to release findings

Independent inquiry will publish report into allegations of sexual abuse at boys’ hostel and residential school linked to former MP Cyril Smith.

A report into allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation at a boys’ hostel and a residential school in Rochdale linked to the late politician Cyril Smith is to be published.

The former Liberal MP is said to have been among those who preyed on youngsters at Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel and Knowl View School.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will release its findings on the claims surrounding the two establishments and others in the town where child placements were arranged or provided by Rochdale Borough Council.

Following three weeks of evidence held last October, the inquiry has also considered the extent to which institutional failings may have allowed abuse to take place.

Politics – Liberal Democrat Party Conference – Cyril Smith – Blackpool

Smith, a prominent councillor before he represented the town in Parliament from 1972 to 1992, acted as a governor for several Rochdale schools, including Knowl View.

Before he died aged 82 in 2010 he was the subject of sex abuse accusations and investigations but never faced trial and received a knighthood in 1988 .

A Lancashire Police investigation into the 29-stone MP concluded in 1970 – the year he first ran for public office – that he was hiding behind a “veneer of respectability” and had used his “unique position” to target eight boys at Cambridge House during the 1960s.

The boys said Smith spanked their bare bottoms and carried out intrusive medical examinations despite not being qualified to do so.

But the then director of public prosecutions (DPP), Sir Norman Skelhorn, ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

MI5 provided IICSA with records detailing allegations that prosecutors had lied about their role in deciding not to charge Smith.

Brian Altman QC, lead counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Counsel to the inquiry Brian Altman QC said the security services were informed the Rochdale Alternative Press (RAP), which published an investigation into Smith in 1979, had been misled by the DPP’s office which told the newspaper it had never received police reports of abuse by Smith.

Among those giving evidence at the inquiry last year was Richard Farnell, the leader of Rochdale Council between 1986 and 1992.

The inquiry heard that a paedophile had been admitted to Knowl View in September 1990, where he had sexually abused at least one boy but Mr Farnell insisted the information was not passed on to him.

Mr Farnell said he was also unaware of a 1991 report submitted by a health authority worker which detailed claims that boys at Knowl View as young as eight were being sexually targeted by men from as far afield as Sheffield.

Mr Farnell, who regained the position as Labour council leader in 2014, quit his role just weeks after his appearance at the inquiry.

Before the public hearing sessions got under way, the council’s chief executive, Steve Rumbelow, apologised for the authority’s “unforgivable” response to concerns raised about Knowl View.

Earlier last year, Greater Manchester Police said it had found no evidence of a criminal cover-up of sexual abuse at Knowl View.

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