Hear­ing into Smith abuse claims to start next month

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Da­mon.wilkin­son@men­media.co.uk @Da­monWilkin­son6

APUBLIC hear­ing into claims Cyril Smith sex­u­ally abused chil­dren in Rochdale will be­gin next month.

The In­de­pen­dent In­quiry into Child Sex Abuse will in­ves­ti­gate allegations the for­mer Rochdale MP and oth­ers were in­volved in the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren at Knowl View res­i­den­tial school and Cam­bridge House boys hos­tel in the town.

Smith, who died in 2010, was a key player in set­ting up Cam­bridge House near Rochdale town cen­tre in the 1960s, but has been ac­cused of abus­ing boys there and at Knowl View in Bam­ford.

A pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing will be held on Wed­nes­day (Sept 20), be­fore the pub­lic hear­ing into the claims com­mences in earnest on Oc­to­ber 9.

It is ex­pected to run un­til Oc­to­ber 27.

The IICSA web­site says the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will “con­sider the ex­tent to which in­sti­tu­tional fail­ings may have al­lowed the sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren at Cam­bridge House, Knowl View and else­where in Rochdale to take place”.

It adds: “In re­cent years, allegations have been made about the sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren at Cam­bridge House Boys’ Hos­tel and Knowl View School in Rochdale. For­mer Lib­eral Party MP, Cyril Smith, has been named as one of the al­leged abusers.

“This in­ves­ti­ga­tion will ex­am­ine th­ese allegations [and] will con­sider the ex­tent to which chil­dren with spe­cial needs, dis­abil­i­ties or other vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties may have been at greater risk of sex­ual abuse and whether their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties im­pacted upon any fail­ure to take ac­tion to pro­tect them.”

In March GMP an­nounced a £750,000 two-year po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, named Op­er­a­tion Clifton, found no ev­i­dence ●●The pub­lic hear­ing will look into claims that for­mer MP Cyril Smith (in­set) was in­volved in the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren at Knowl View res­i­den­tial school and Cam­bridge House boys hos­tel of a cover-up of abuse at Knowl View.

The in­quiry, which was launched in July 2014 and con­cluded late last year, looked into how pre­vi­ous re­ports of abuse at Knowl View, which cared for boys from dys­func­tional back­grounds, were han­dled or al­legedly hushed up. A re­port has been writ­ten on Op­er­a­tion Clifton’s find­ings, but it will be in­cor­po­rated into the IICSA.

GMP also launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­leged abuse at Knowl View and other chil­dren’s homes in 2012.

Only one per­son was charged but, after re­view­ing new po­lice ev­i­dence, the CPS dropped the case.

The far-reach­ing IICSA probe is to scru­ti­nise 13 in­sti­tu­tions rang­ing from lo­cal author­i­ties to the church and army for child pro­tec­tion fail­ings, in­clud­ing abuse claims against prom­i­nent pub­lic fig­ures.

Hear­ings are tak­ing place at the In­ter­na­tional Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­tre in cen­tral London.

Pro­fes­sor Alexis Jay, the in­quiry’s chair­man, has said she plans to make rec­om­men­da­tions in an in­terim re­port in 2018 and spoke of her de­ter­mi­na­tion to make ‘sub­stan­tial progress’ by 2020.

But no fi­nal com­ple­tion date has been given for what is the largest pub­lic in­quiry ever es­tab­lished in the UK.

There have been sug­ges­tions it could last for up to a decade and cost tens of mil­lions of pounds.

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