David Cameron and senior ministers have been accused of “compounding the cover up” over sex abuse allegations about Sir Cyril Smith, the late Liberal Democrat MP, by failing to produce a police dossier allegedly seized by MI5.
Last week Tony Robinson, a special branch officer with Lancashire Police in the 1970s, told The Daily Telegraph he had seen a dossier “thick” with allegations from boys claiming they had been abused by Sir Cyril.
He said that after taking the file out of the safe at special branch headquarters in Hutton, Preston, he was contacted by an officer from MI5 who told him it needed to be sent to London.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, today asked the Prime Minister to publish any “police files relating to Smith”.
The Prime Minister declined to answer directly, and instead pointed to an investigation which has been opened by Greater Manchester Police which will examine allegations dating back to 1974.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said: “I understand that Greater Manchester Police have today confirmed that they will now investigate any allegations of sexual abuse that happened from 1974.
“I would say to these gentlemen take them [any allegations] to the police, that’s the way we investigate things in this country.”
The new investigation comes after Sir Cyril was described in the Commons last week as a “29-stone bully” who “imposed himself” on boys in care.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Sir Cyril’s former constituency in Rochdale, said that a single, over-arching investigation was needed to look at all the claims.
He said: “The whole thing is an absolute mess, it is not a joined up approach. A single police unit needs to look at all the allegations. Mr Cameron and the Home Office also need to look for this dossier which is allegedly held by MI5.”
Mr Robinson said that before the dossier was seized by MI5, it was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who decided that pursuing the allegations was “not in the public interest”.
Both Lancashire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service say they have been unable to find the dossier.
Steve Heywood, the GMP Assistant Chief Constable, said today: “It has been agreed that Greater Manchester Police will now investigate any allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Sir Cyril Smith that happened from 1974 onwards.
“We have taken this step to clear up any confusion that may have existed within the communities of Rochdale, and among the wider public, as to which Force is looking into the allegations.”
Mr Heywood said there had been much “speculation” about whether his force had investigated allegations of sexual abuse involving Sir Cyril Smith in the 1980s and 1990s.
He added that detectives were “examining our records to see what involvement Greater Manchester Police may have had”.
Mr Heywood said Rochdale was previously within the jurisdiction of Lancashire Police but after geographical boundaries being redrawn in 1974 became part of his force.
He added: “Therefore, to make it explicitly clear, Greater Manchester Police will now investigate any reports of abuse that happened after 1974, and any abuse that happened before that date will be investigated by Lancashire Police.”
Lancashire Police said: “We take matters such as this extremely seriously and anyone who does come forward should do so with confidence that they will be treated appropriately and with sensitivity.
“While we believe there was an investigation into allegations against Mr Smith in the late 1960s, no records are now held and it cannot be ascertained whether a file was passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions.”