Cyril Smith abuse victim will be a key witness at inquiry

Cyril Smith
Cyril Smith
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An ex-residential school pupil from Wigan who claims he was abused by Sir Cyril Smith is set to be a key witness at the national child abuse inquiry.

Prof Alexis Kay will hear evidence from the borough resident, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but who attended the former Knowl View School in Rochdale from 1969 to 1974.

This was around the time that the Crown Prosecution Service decided to take no further action over the late Rochdale MP’s conduct.

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The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleges that he was not only abused by Sir Cyril but fellow staff members and fellow pupils at the establishment for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Prof Jay will be examining a series of issues surrounding the management of Knowl View, which closed in the 1990s, and Cambridge House, a hostel for young working men, to which youths were admitted, which also came under Sir Cyril’s remit when he was a local councillor.

A key line of inquiry will examine how the Liberal politician was able to escape police prosecution, and was able to target young men at Knowl View, even when suspicions were raised about his behaviour.

One final preliminary hearing is taking place on Wednesday, for outstanding legal issues surrounding the Knowl View and Cambridge House portion of the inquiry before the main investigation gets underway in earnest on October 9.

The inquiry will also focus on institutional abuse within the BBC, including the Jimmy Saville scandal, the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, Westminster and the late Labour peer, Lord Janner.

A spokesman for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: “The investigations will give a voice to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, enable the Inquiry to understand how institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse and make practical recommendations to ensure better institutional protection for children in the future.”

Special provisions will have to be made for the Wigan witness, as he now suffers from an array of health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mobility issues.

Inquiry leaders are prepared for him to give evidence to the London hearing via a video link at Manchester Crown Court,

Last October a sexual abuse case concerning a 76-year-old former Knowl View employee was dropped after a lengthy Greater Manchester Police investigation.

An investigation by GMP, which wound up earlier this year, codenamed Operation Clifton, concluded there was no evidence of a criminal cover-up involving the abuse at Knowl View.