In Depth

Cyril Smith child sex abuse inquiry 'scrapped after his arrest'

Claims that police officers were ordered to hand over evidence are 'very credible and very frightening'

The Metropolitan Police are facing fresh allegations after it was revealed that an undercover police investigation that gathered evidence of child abuse by MP Cyril Smith was scrapped shortly after his arrest.

The Liberal MP, who died in 2010, was arrested for his alleged involvement in sex parties with teenage boys in south London during the 1980s, a former police officer told BBC Newsnight.

During a three-month secret inquiry into a high-profile child sex abuse ring, police collected compelling video evidence of men abusing boys as young as 14, the source said.

Newsnight was also told that police had evidence that a senior member of Britain's intelligence agencies and two high-ranking police officers took part in the abuse.

The inquiry is reported to have led to a house in Streatham, where Smith and several others were arrested. Newsnight alleges he was released just hours later without charge.

The decision to scrap the inquiry was made by a high-ranking police officer, whom the undercover team had no prior contact with, the source alleges.

"Officers were then ordered to hand over all their evidence – including notebooks and video footage – and were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act," reports The BBC's Nick Hopkins.

Former Scotland Yard detective Clive Driscoll has described the claims as "very credible and very frightening".

"Smith was being protected by some fairly powerful people [...] because he knew of other paedophiles in the networks in which he operated," said Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has worked to expose Cyril Smith as a prolific paedophile.

This latest revelation comes just hours after the police watchdog announced that it would be beginning an investigation into claims that the Met Police covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of high-level politicians and police officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has described the allegations as "historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature".

The police force refused to comment on the recent allegations, but said that it was investigating allegations that police officers "acted inappropriately" in relation to historic child abuse investigations. It urged anyone with information to come forward.

Met Police probed over claims it covered up child sex abuse

16 March

An investigation has begun into claims that the Metropolitan police covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of high level politicians and police officers, the police watchdog has announced.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is looking into 16 allegations of high-level corruption in the force from the 1970s to 2005.

"These allegations are of historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature," said deputy chairman of the IPCC, Sally Green. "Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people our commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust.

The investigation will look at claims that London's police force suppressed evidence and hindered or halted investigations because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.

The list of allegations being investigated include claims that:

  • Police officers sexually abused a young boy and then carried out surveillance on him
  • Surveillance of a child abuse ring was shut down because of "high-profile people being involved"
  • A document, which originated from within the Houses of Parliament, was discovered at a paedophile's address and listed a number of high-level individuals as being involved in a paedophile ring, but no further action was taken.

The Metropolitan police told the BBC that the force had voluntarily referred the cases to the IPCC because it "recognised the severity of the allegations and the importance of understanding whether or not our officers had in the past acted inappropriately". 

It also said that its ongoing investigations and recent convictions have shown that the service is "fully committed" to investigating non-recent allegations of sexual abuse.

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