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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Investigation Report

Investigations after the Mellor report

32. As we have described in Part 3, the Mellor report was circulated to individuals from across the political spectrum of the Council. It was also circulated to Chief Superintendent Houghton on or around 9 April 1992 and the issue raised of whether there should be further police enquiries. Chief Superintendent Houghton in turn wrote to Mrs Cavanagh to say that the police had been unable to contact Mrs Mellor to discuss this further. If Mrs Mellor was prepared to discuss the matter, the officer dealing with it was Detective Sergeant Sterndale.[1]

33. In his evidence to Operation Clifton, then retired Chief Superintendent Houghton said his view was that the Mellor report would require further investigation but that he retired in August 1992 and did not take this further. He suggested that he would have passed it on to Detective Superintendent Henderson (his successor).[2] This was put to Detective Superintendent Henderson, but he could not recall that he had ever seen the Mellor report.[3]

34. In fact, a press report from July 1996 suggests that Detective Superintendent Henderson had seen the Mellor report. He was responding to suggestions at that time that there had been a cover-up at Knowl View School and referred to his having seen a ‘dossier’ of documents provided by Martin Digan. He is reported to have told the Rochdale Observer: “I have examined the issues raised in connection with the school and nothing in the documents or the information requires further investigation by the police. All the issues involved at the school were discussed and investigated at the time by a number of agencies and necessary action was taken then. I do not believe there has been any cover-up at the school and nothing in the documents indicates that.”[4] 

35. Detective Sergeant Sterndale was also asked whether he had conduct of an investigation into Knowl View after the Mellor report was produced. He said he had no recollection of any such investigation.[5] 

36. However, Mrs Cavanagh confirmed in her evidence that she had met with Chief Superintendent Houghton after the Mellor report was produced on 14 April 1992. The purpose of this meeting was to consider the position of the caretaker at Knowl View. Chief Superintendent Houghton explained that there were three possible outcomes from the investigation and that this decision would be communicated to the Education Department.[6]

37. It seems that there was some consideration of the position of the caretaker (or ‘school keeper’ as he was often referred to) but there was no investigation of any role he might have played in the Hilton incident. Operation Clifton did not find any evidence that there was any specific police investigation into information that had come via the Shepherd, Mellor or Cavanagh reports.[7] This is, in our view, entirely in keeping with what had happened to date. The Hilton incident had been investigated (with only a residual issue raised as to the role of the caretaker). The issue of sexual activity among children was not regarded as a matter for the police. The issue of child sexual exploitation was being considered separately, as and when information came to light about individual children, and in any event a number of the children named in the records had been moved on to other institutions by this stage. 

38. For the same reason, we do not consider that there was any sort of cover-up of the reports generated about Knowl View. The reality is more prosaic. The reports were circulated (quite widely in the case of the Mellor report) but not regarded (save for the misgivings expressed by Councillor Hawton) as requiring any wholesale investigation to get to the truth of what happened.

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