Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe expresses 'regret' to Lord Bramall over paedophile probe
Britain's most senior police officer has met privately with Lord Bramall and expressed his "regret" about the distress felt by the D-Day veteran after he was embroiled in Scotland Yard's inquiry into VIP paedophile allegations.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has previously refused to say sorry to the 92-year-old, whose home was raided while he had breakfast with his terminally ill wife.
He and Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan met in private with Lord Bramall on Thursday and noted his concerns about their investigation.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "Whilst the content of that conversation will remain private, the Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe expressed, in person, his regret about the distress felt by Lord Bramall and his family, and the impact of having his innocence publicly called into question after a long career of public service.
"The Commissioner listened to Lord Bramall's concerns about the investigation, which will be considered as part of the independent review announced by the Metropolitan Police Service on Wednesday, February 10."
A furore erupted in January when Lord Bramall was told he would face no further action over historic abuse claims almost nine months after he was interviewed under caution as part of the Met's controversial Operation Midland.
After he was cleared, Sir Bernard and his force came under intense pressure to apologise to the former head of the Army.
Appearing at the Commons Home Affairs committee in February, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner expressed "regret" but refused to apologise.
During one terse exchange, Tory MP Tim Loughton referred to a "media circus" around the episode.
Sir Bernard said: "Ah the media circus. If what you mean is that you want me to be bullied into apologising then that won't happen."
Mr Loughton replied: "So you think you're being bullied, do you?"
Sir Bernard said: "I'm asking you whether that's what you think."
A statement issued on behalf of Lord Bramall said: "The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police met with Lord Bramall on April 7 2016. They had a useful constructive meeting.
"The Commissioner expressed deep regret at the great distress that had been caused to Lord Bramall and his family by the circumstances of operation midland which as an innocent man Lord Bramall had to endure for 10 months.
"The Commissioner further assured Lord Bramall that the Metropolitan Police Service would be taking the urgent steps to implement the recommendations of the independent review led by Sir Richard Henriques.
"Lord Bramall looks forward to contributing to this review with the aim of establishing whether the investigation could or should have been handled differently.
"Lord Bramall accepts these assurances and appreciates the great pressure the Metropolitan Police have been under."
Sir Bernard has asked Sir Richard to examine the way non-recent sexual allegations against public figures are investigated, and the Metropolitan Police will publish the key findings of the review and the recommendations later this year.
Scotland Yard has faced fierce criticism over its investigation into allegations against Lord Bramall, but has so far has only expressed "regret" about the case.
Sir Bernard told the Home Affairs committee in February: "First of all we have expressed regret. Regret of course, that is not an apology.
"There are difficulties...with apologies to suspects."
Sir Bernard insisted the refusal to apologise was not down to "arrogance".
He said: "It's not the fact that we are arrogant and we don't want to apologise for failure. Certainly in the case of suspects there are difficult things we have to consider."
The commissioner also defended the deployment of 22 officers to search Lord Bramall's home.
He said: "The number of searchers is not to do with trying to alert anybody to the event but to do with doing something thoroughly and efficiently."