Q&A: Operation Midland – the story so far

The Home Secretary has asked a police watchdog to review the actions of the Met during Operation Midland.

Here are some key questions surrounding the case.

Operation Midland
Carl Beech (CPS/PA)

Q: What is Operation Midland?

A: The Metropolitan Police’s bungled investigation into fabricated claims of a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster.

Q: What happened?

A: The investigation saw the homes of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall, Lady Diana Brittan (widow of former home secretary Leon Brittan), and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor raided on the basis of false claims by fantasist Carl Beech.

Beech is serving an 18-year jail term for fabricating a series of claims of rape, torture and murder by well-known names from the military, the security services and politicians.

Harvey Proctor
Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor (Danny Lawson/PA)

Q: What is the Henriques report?

A: A review by former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who was called in after the 16-month Operation Midland ended in 2016 without a single arrest.

Q: What happens on Friday?

A: The Metropolitan Police will publish further details from the report – including previously redacted information – after pressure to be more transparent.

The force said it was taking the “highly unusual step” of publishing significant detail from the chapters focusing on Operation Midland which would include “graphic, personal and sensitive information”.

The Met said: “This exceptional level of information is being published in response to pressing concerns and the need to dispel rumour, to demonstrate transparency and our organisational willingness to learn from past mistakes and help maintain public confidence.

Leon Brittan
The late Lord Brittan (Chris Jackson/PA)

“What redactions have been made have been kept to the absolute minimum and each will be explained in the published report.

“Criticisms made of officers and the Met in all three chapters have not been redacted and remain in the report.”

Some details of Sir Richard’s report were released by the force three years ago, in which he criticised the Met for:

– Believing Beech for too long
– One officer announcing Beech’s claims were “credible and true”
– Applying for search warrants with flawed information
– Failing to close the investigation sooner

Lord Bramall
Lord Bramall was one of the targets of the false allegations (Tony Harris/PA)

Friday’s publication will also include details of Sir Richard’s review of an investigation of a separate rape claim against Lord Brittan.

Operation Vincente looked at an allegation that the politician raped a 19-year-old woman in 1967.

Separately, Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, to examine the Met’s response to the investigation, under his powers at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The body is obligated to take on commissions from the Home Secretary and has said it will set out how the investigation will progress in due course.

Q: Is there anything in the Henriques report that will not be published?

A: The Met has declined to publish other parts of the report because they do not relate to anyone like Beech who was proven in court to be a liar.

The chapters to remain secret relate to:

– Operation Bixley – part of a larger investigation named Operation Fairbank into historical allegations of sexual abuse by politicians
– Four sections about Operation Yewtree into allegations of historical abuse by celebrities
– A further, separate inquiry into an allegation of abuse by a celebrity

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