War veteran hits out at watchdog’s investigation over collapsed VIP abuse probe
The Metropolitan Police are facing a new row over their disastrous investigation into claims of a murderous VIP paedophile ring.
War veteran Lord Bramall, 95, whose home was searched as part of Operation Midland, said it was “completely ridiculous” that no officer involved had faced criminal or disciplinary action.
He spoke out after former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques wrote a scathing article in the Daily Mail saying he believes warrants to search the properties of high-profile figures were “obtained unlawfully”.
Sir Richard was called in to review Operation Midland, a £2 million Scotland Yard investigation that ran from 2014 to 2016 and did not result in a single arrest.
It was sparked by a series of wild claims by fantasist Carl Beech, 51, who last week was given an 18-year prison sentence for lying to police.
He had falsely claimed that he had been sadistically abused by high-profile figures from the worlds of politics, the armed forces and security services.
Lord Bramall issued a statement through his solicitor Drew Pettifer calling for the whole of Sir Richard’s report on the investigation to be published.
He said: “The report by Sir Richard made a number of recommendations that should be implemented as soon as possible.
“Never again should the presumption of innocence be reversed on the say so of one person and for the convenience of one organisation.”
In a comment piece published in the Daily Mail, Sir Richard claimed the warrants authorising the searches of the homes of Lord Bramall, former Tory MP Harvey Proctor and Lady Diana Brittan, widow of former home secretary Leon Brittan, “were obtained unlawfully”.
Three applications for search warrants stated Beech’s allegations had been consistent, but Sir Richard had not found that to be the case.
He wrote: “I remain unable to conclude that every officer acted with due diligence and in good faith.
“I concluded in 2016 – and I remain of the view – that the officers responsible for the three applications did not in fact fully believe that there were reasonable grounds to believe Beech’s allegations.”
The allegations of Beech to Wiltshire Police in 2012 were “inconsistent” with those made to the Metropolitan Police in 2014 and with blogs published by Beech in 2014, Sir Richard said.
“Thus the course of justice was perverted with shocking consequences. A criminal investigation should surely follow.”
Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) concluded that none of the officers involved in the investigation had committed misconduct or broken the law.
A spokesman said: “The IOPC conducted a careful assessment of whether there were any criminal offences to consider. In this case no suspicion of criminality was identified.
“The investigation did not identify any information to suggest that officers deliberately withheld evidence from the applications, with the intention of misleading the district judge.”
However, Lord Bramall, a highly decorated retired soldier who fought in the Second World War and later served as the head of the armed forces, dismissed the watchdog’s conclusion.
“I find, in light of Sir Richard’s comments today, the conclusion of the Independent Office for Police Conduct that their investigation did not identify any information to suggest that officers deliberately withheld evidence from the applications for the warrants to search my home and others, with the intention of misleading the district judge, completely ridiculous,” he said.
Mr Proctor, whose home was raided in connection with the probe, said he was “pleased” with Sir Richard’s comments and called for Northumbria Police, who led the investigation into Beech, to review the case.
Daniel Janner, whose father Lord Janner of Braunstone QC faced allegations of child sex abuse, called for the IOPC investigation to be reopened “with a view to as to whether or not former police officers were guilty of misfeasance in a public office in light of Sir Richard’s comments”.
The family of the former Labour peer have always maintained his innocence.
Scotland Yard said that five officers originally referred to the IOPC and three investigated by the watchdog had all been cleared of any wrongdoing.
All those involved in the allegations are no longer serving Met Police officers, although one, a retired detective superintendent, has a civilian role within the force.
A Met Police spokesman said it would review whether more of Sir Richard’s report could be published.