LORD Steel has been suspended after he admitted he knew Cyril Smith was a paedophile but did nothing about it.
The ex-Liberal leader, now 80, had said the MP had confirmed to him that claims he spanked young boys and fondled their testicles were true.
But Lord Steel refused to take action because the offences happened before Smith was a member of the Liberals or an MP.
He told an inquiry yesterday: “It had nothing to do with me.”
Lib Dem sources told the Daily Mail that the peer will be suspended from the party today.
Lord Steel had said he would act in the same way again, even though Smith would go on to abuse other victims.
His remarks sparked a huge backlash and demands for his suspension.
The party announced it had launched a probe into Lord Steel over his comments.
Deputy leader of the Lib Dems Jo Swinson tweeted: “Clearly this is incredibly serious and he should be suspended while this takes place.”
Yesterday Lord Steel said he asked Smith about allegations he read in Private Eye in 1979.
He told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse he came away from the meeting believing Smith had molested children.
He said: “Well, I assumed he had because he said the account was correct.”
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But when asked why he did nothing, Lord Steel, Liberal leader from 1976 to 1988, replied: “It was before he was an MP, before he was even a member of my party.”
He went on to give his support for a knighthood for Smith, who died in 2010, aged 82.
Ex-Labour MP Simon Danczuk said: “This means that Lord Steel nominated Cyril Smith for a knighthood knowing he was an abuser of children.”
Lord Steel says Cyril Smith had confirmed to him that claims he spanked young boys and fondled their testicles were true[/caption]
Smith, MP for Rochdale for 20 years, never faced criminal action despite 144 complaints from alleged victims[/caption]
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