DAVID Steel is set be expelled from the LibDems following criticism of the Scottish peer by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

According to reports in the Telegraph, the former Holyrood presiding officer is set to be castigated by the probe over his admission that he failed to pass on suspicions that Liberal MP Cyril Smith was abusing boys.

The paper says that a committee of senior LibDem MPs and peers is being convened to discuss Lord Steel's future in the party once the document is made public.

Steel was briefly suspended from the party last year after he told the probe about a meeting he had with Smith in 1979 about claims he had abused boys at a Rochdale hostel in the 1960s.

Steel who was the leader of the party at the time, said he had discussed the allegations with Smith after an article appeared in Private Eye magazine.

The 81-year-old told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that "the matter had been investigated by police, no further action was taken and that was the end of the story".

But in exchanges with inquiry counsel Brian Altman QC, the peer appeared to agree that he had "assumed" the allegations were true "nothing to do with me".

Police believe Smith, who was the MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992 was a serial sex abuser of boys.

In 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service admitted that the politician should have been charged with the crimes more than 40 years ago.

The Telegraph claims Steel’s expulsion from the party could lead to others quitting the party, including former leader Menzies Campbell.

The paper quotes close friends of Steel accusing IICSA of "scraping the barrel" and making him a scapegoat in order to justify the huge cost of the inquiry.

The Telegraph also says behind the scenes, the Lib Dems have already put in motion plans to suspend and then expel Lord Steel, who is now 81, when IICSA publishes its report on February 25.

A friend of Lord Steel said: "This is really low-hanging fruit for IICSA. There is no allegation about Lord Steel's personal behaviour, but the way in which he dealt with some publicity about Smith which he raised with him 40 years ago.

"There is a real fear IICSA will use this as a small trophy and the Liberal Democrats will seize upon any criticism to expel him. We think IICSA will scapegoat him on the basis he is the only name they have got."

The friends of Lord Steel also say it is deeply unfair to criticise him for recommending Smith for a knighthood in 1988, when the honours committee had the power to instigate a full investigation but still approved it.

A source close to IICSA told The Telegraph that the 200-page Westminster report will include "a section on Steel", adding: "There's a bit on him, don't worry." The source insisted Lord Steel would be one "focus" in a wide-ranging report.

Following his evidence to IICSA, Lord Steel was briefly suspended from the Liberal Democrats but then reinstated after an internal inquiry. Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, said last year that Lord Steel had been cleared after clarifying that "Smith did not confess to any criminality, which is why he took no further action at the time."