Late British lawmaker abused boys: Police

2012-11-28 10:01

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London - British police acknowledged on Tuesday that Cyril Smith, a high-profile politician who died two years ago, had physically and sexually abused young boys in care homes in the 1960s.

Smith, whose girth - he weighed 178kg - and outspoken opinions made him a colourful character in parliament for the Liberals, faced rumours of abuse throughout his career but criminal charges were never brought.

Both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that if Smith, a politician for 20 years, had faced the same allegations today he would be charged and prosecuted.

Smith was secretary of the Rochdale Hostel for Boys Association in northwest England and was accused of abusing vulnerable youngsters by spanking and touching them.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: "The force is now publicly acknowledging that young boys were victims of physical and sexual abuse committed by Smith.

"Three separate files regarding Sir Cyril Smith's actions were passed to first the director of public prosecutions [DPP] and the Crown Prosecution Service although on each occasion no prosecution was pursued."

Overwhelming evidence

The claims of abuse against Smith were investigated in 1970, 1998 and 1999, but no prosecution was ever brought.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood of Greater Manchester Police said a review of those decisions had found there was "overwhelming evidence" against Smith.

"We believe that if the same evidence was presented to the CPS today there would have been a very realistic prospect that Smith would have been charged with a number of indecent assaults, and that the case would have been brought to trial," he said.

Although there is no indication of any link, the revelation comes as police investigate 450 claims of sexual abuse of mainly young girls by Jimmy Savile, a radio and TV presenter who was one of the BBC's biggest stars in the 1970s and 1980s.

Savile died last year aged 84 without ever facing prosecution for the allegations.

Police have arrested four men in connection with the Savile investigation, including former glam rock star and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter.

Read more on:    uk  |  child abuse
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