21/11/2012 03:53 GMT | Updated 21/11/2012 04:04 GMT

Sir Cyril Smith Child Abuse Claims To Be Investigated By Greater Manchester Police

Abuse claims surrounding the late MP Sir Cyril Smith will be investigated by Greater Manchester Police, the force confirmed on Wednesday morning.

The "larger than life" former Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale, who died in 2010 aged 82, has been accused of routinely molesting young boys.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Greater Manchester Police's Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said they would look into all claims against the 29-stone politician made after 1974, with Lancashire police looking at claims made before then.

cyril smith

The Lib Dem MP was accused of inappropriate conduct with young boys

"Any fresh complaints that are made will be thoroughly investigated and we will continue to work with our colleagues at Lancashire Police to provide support to any victims who come forward," he added.

Sir Cyril was widely praised by his peers when he died, 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."

But 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 in the 1960s.

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. Fitton said he made an allegation against Smith in 1979.

Current Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk has demanded an inquiry into the claims amid accusations of a "cover-up."

"Smith abused his power beyond belief. How many more people were victims? There are a lot of allegations coming forward now."

It has been reported that the CPS knew of claims against Smith but did not prosecute as it would not be in the public interest.

Heywood also said that the force were looking into media speculation they had investigated allegations of sexual abuse involving Smith in the 1980s and 1990s.

"We are examining our records to see what involvement Greater Manchester Police may have had," he said. "However, we need to be clear that some of these allegations are up to 30-years-old and predate our computerised records, so it will take some time to establish what, if any, the Force's involvement was."

Greater Manchester Police said: "We take all reports of sexual abuse very seriously and we have teams of specially-trained officers who can provide support and guidance if you were a victim. I would therefore ask that if anyone does want to make a complaint about abuse that occurred after 1974, that they go to their nearest police station to report it, or call us on 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

"I can assure you that what you say will be treated in the strictest of confidence and with sensitivity."

SEE ALSO: Child Abuse Allegations Resurface As Victims At Rochdale Hostel Come Forward