'Larger-than-life' Lib Dem MP Sir Cyril Smith is the latest public figure to be accused of routinely molesting young boys, with Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk set to demand an inquiry into the claims.
Former residents at a boys hostel in Rochdale alleged in an investigation by PoliticsHome that they had been subjected to "medicals" where they had their buttocks and testicles stroked, and their bare bottoms slapped by Smith, during the 190s.
The former Liberal MP for Rochdale, who weighed 29-stone at his heaviest, had been subject to rumours about abuse at the Cambridge House hostel for many years, but Danczuk, the current Labour MP in Rochdale, is to raise the abuse claims during a child sexual exploitation debate in the commons on Tuesday, and call for the police files on Smith from the 1970s to be released.
Sir Cyril died in 2010, and was widely praised by his peers, with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg calling him "a larger-than-life character and one of the most recognisable and likeable politicians of his day.”
PoliticsHome interviewed Barry Fitton and Eddie Shorrock, who were 15 and 17 at the time, both who allege were given intrusive "medicals" by Smith, a local councillor at the time and one of the founders of the hostel, where most boys were from disadvantages backgrounds, abuse victims or on probation.
Complaints were made to police during the 1960s, and Lancashire Police interviewed Smith, who denied the claims. The force allegedly sent the files to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but Smith was later told the case was dropped, according to PoliticsHome.
No follow-up action was taken, apart from by the newspaper Rochdale Alternative Press, which printed anonymous claims in 1979. Private Eye has also repeated the claims for decades.
Smith issued a writ against the Rochdale paper, but never sued.
A spokesman for Lancashire police told The Huffington Post UK no new complaints or allegations had been made to them since the matter resurfaced, and that no records were no held as to whether the file was passed to the DPP.
Fitton told PoliticsHome.com about one 'medical' he alleges to have received, saying: "He told me to take my trousers and pants down. He felt my thighs and testicles from both front and back. He held my testicles and asked me to cough.”
“There are still people in Rochdale who don’t believe that Cyril Smith was capable of doing these things. I think it should be brought out in to the open not just for my peace of mind but for other people’s peace of mind."
Rochdale council leader Colin Lambert has also called for the matter to be looked at again, telling the Manchester Evening News: “The rumours need either to be confirmed or squashed and people need to go to the police.
“If there are victims out there in the community they need to give that information to the police so that can be re-investigated.”
Rochdale hit the headlines earlier this year when a sex-trafficking gang was exposed as preying on underage teenage girls in the area, and the men involved were convicted in May.