Police are to launch an investigation into whether allegations of child abuse involving Lib Dem MP Cyril Smith were covered up by its own officers as well as politicians.

Smith, who died in 2010, is alleged to have committed a series of child sex offences at the Knowl View School in Rochdale over years.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have now referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate whether the abuse at the hands of the politician were covered up.

Allegations surrounding Smith first emerged in 1979. Despite being investigated by police after more than 144 complaints, Smith was never charged for any offence.

Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk also repeated the allegations in his recently published book Smile for the Camera: The Double Life Of Cyril Smith, which he wrote with Matthew Baker.

Danczuk claims any attempts to make a prosecution against Smith were blocked by people at the "very top of the establishment".

GMP asst chief const Ian Wiggett said: "Following the publication of MP Simon Danzcuk's book Smile for the Camera, GMP conducted an assessment of the allegations contained within that book. As a result of the assessment, GMP decided that a criminal investigation was required.

"This also followed consultation with Rochdale Council and the QC conducting the independent inquiry on their behalf. The council asked Neil Garnham QC to suspend his independent review and he has agreed to do so.

"The GMP investigation will now seek to identify whether any offences have been committed in the way that previous reports of abuse were handled or allegedly covered up."

He added: "We are aware that some of the allegations relate to the past involvement of police officers, and therefore we have referred those matters to the IPCC. In addition, we have established an independent oversight panel to demonstrate the independence and rigour of the investigation that we will be conducting.

Following the announcement of the investigation, Danczuk said: "I welcome the fact that GMP are taking what's in our book seriously. It is clear to me that crimes have been committed, though I hope the police will prioritise the arrests of abusers who are still alive over whether council officers covered this up.

"That is what the victims have told me is their priority. They want to see those who inflicted terrible abuse on innocent children brought to justice."

Fourteen male suspects have been questioned as part of the investigation into alleged child abuse at the Rochdale school between 1969 and 1990.

Smith's family have always denied the allegations against the MP.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg previously said the allegations against Smith must be investigated "to the bitter end".