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Cyril Smith Appeared Guilty, Cop Told Boss
A senior police detective told his boss that the late MP Cyril Smith appeared guilty of sexual abuse against boys, according to a newly released letter.
In the 14-page report in 1970, the detective superintendent said "it seems impossible to excuse the conduct" of Rochdale's "best known public citizen".
The policeman added: "Whilst sheltering beneath a veneer of respectability, he has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys whom he had a special responsibility."
Mr Smith was alleged to have abused eight young boys, six of whom were at the privately run Cambridge House care home in Rochdale.
The unnamed officer said the majority of the alleged offences took place in 1965, the year the home closed and prior to his election as an MP seven years later.
The policeman also said he spoke to a magistrate who warned of "unfortunate repercussions" for the police and the town if Mr Smith was prosecuted.
The document was by an officer at No 5 District Task Force in Oldham to the former chief constable of the Lancashire force, William Palfrey.
At the time of the letter, released by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following a Freedom of Information request, Mr Smith, then aged 41, was chairman of the town's education committee and had been a chairman of the children's committee.
He had been awarded an MBE for services to youth and the document was written two years before he became Rochdale's MP for the then Liberal Party in 1972.
The detective said Mr Smith was "most unimpressive during my interview with him".
The officer went on: "He had difficulty in articulating and even the stock replies he proffered could only be obtained after repeated promptings from his solicitor.
"Were he ever to be placed in the witness box, he would be at the mercy of any competent counsel.
"Prima facie, he appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault."
Sky's Mike McCarthy said: "What this report really highlights is the extent to which the authorities were aware, not of the rumours circulating about Cyril Smith, but in the mind of at least one detective what he thought was quite clear evidence."
Two years ago, the CPS released a 1970 document from the then Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Norman Skelhorn in which he told police: "I have considered your file and I observe that eight young men, whose ages range from nineteen to twenty-four years, allege that between 1961 and 1966 Smith subjected them to various forms of indecency and I also observe that Smith denies their allegations.
"Any charges of indecent assault founded on these allegations, as well as being somewhat stale, would be, in my view, completely without corroboration. Further, the characters of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect."
Mr Smith, who died in 2010 aged 82, served as the Liberal and later Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992.