Timeline: How ‘Westminster paedophile ring’ probe unfolded
Allegations made by Carl Beech sparked the million-pound Metropolitan Police investigation known as Operation Midland, with officers raiding the homes of several high-profile figures who were falsely accused.
– December 6 – Beech is interviewed by Wiltshire Police Detective Constable Mark Lewis after making a complaint about child sex abuse.
He says his stepfather, Major Ray Beech, and Jimmy Savile both abused him. The force later marks the case as “undetected” and takes no further action.
– October 23 – After meeting reporters, Beech comes forward to the Metropolitan Police with a string of allegations against high-profile figures.
– November 14 – Police announce the launch of the Operation Midland investigation into claims of “possible homicide” linked to an alleged VIP paedophile ring. The investigation centres on claims by a man known only as “Nick”.
– December 18 – Scotland Yard appeals for information regarding the alleged murders of three young boys linked to the supposed paedophile ring. People who lived in or visited London’s Dolphin Square apartments in the 1970s are asked to come forward. A Met officer describes the allegations made by “Nick” as “credible and true”.
– March 4 – The home of former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor is searched by officers investigating “historic child sexual abuse”. He denies being part of a “rent-boy ring” or attending sex parties. The homes of Lord Brittan and Lord Bramall are later searched.
– April 30 – Normandy veteran Lord Bramall, 91, is interviewed under caution.
– August 25 – Mr Proctor denounces the allegations made by “Nick” and claims he is the victim of a “homosexual witch hunt”.
– September 22 – Alison Saunders, the then head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), admits Scotland Yard may have “overstepped the mark” in describing the allegations as “credible and true”.
– January 15 – Lord Bramall is told he faces no further action and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, then the Metropolitan Police commissioner, later apologises to him.
– March 21 – Mr Proctor reveals he has been told he will face no further action. Operation Midland is closed without a single arrest. Days later, the widow of Lord Brittan, who died in January 2015, is told her husband would have had no case to answer.
– November 2 – Beech’s rented three-bedroom home in Gloucester is raided by police.
– November 8 – A report by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques finds Scotland Yard made “numerous errors” in Operation Midland.
– September 7 – Northumbria Police pass a file to the CPS to determine whether “Nick” should face charges of perverting the course of justice and fraud.
– February – Aware that charges may follow from Northumbria Police’s investigation, “Nick” flees the country, attempting to start a new life in Sweden.
– July 3 – “Nick” is charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud.
– October 20 – Having been extradited from Sweden, “Nick” appears in court.
– December 3 – “Nick” is unmasked as Beech after Judge Paul Sloan QC, the Recorder of Newcastle, lifts a reporting restriction preventing the media from naming him.
– January 22 – Beech pleads guilty to voyeurism, making indecent images of children and possessing indecent images.
– February 18 – Beech denies perverting the course of justice and fraud.
– May 14 – His trial begins with prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC describing his account to detectives as “totally unfounded, hopelessly compromised and irredeemably contradicted”.
– July 3 – Beech stands by allegations he made to detectives when he gives evidence.
– July 22 – The jury takes just four and a half hours to convict the ex-NSPCC volunteer after hearing evidence including that he made a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for £22,000, which was used to put down a deposit on a Ford Mustang.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct clears three detectives after looking into how a district judge granted warrants to raid the homes of Beech’s innocent victims.
– July 26 – Beech, a 51-year-old former nurse and divorced father, is jailed for 18 years.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson is accused of being the “cheerleader in chief” of the false claims. The West Bromwich MP had spoken with Beech in 2014 and raised the issue of a possible high-profile criminal VIP ring in Parliament two years earlier.
– July 30 – Lord Bramall said it was “completely ridiculous” that no officer involved had faced criminal or disciplinary action.
Sir Richard said police officers involved in the probe should be investigated.
– August 8 – It emerges police spent £4,670 on a trip to Sydney only to find that Scott Masterton – named by Beech as a murder victim – was still alive, according to reports.
– August 21 – Beech appeals against his conviction and sentence.
– September 4 – It emerges the saga could cost the Metropolitan Police more than £4 million:
– £2.5 million for the Met investigation
– £900,000 spent by Northumbria Police in investigating and convicting Beech, which will be charged to the Met
– Mr Proctor is suing the Met for £1 million
– September 9 – Mr Proctor said the Henriques report revealed “staggering incompetence”, and his lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said the investigation had been conducted with “institutional stupidity”.
– October 3 – The Home Secretary reportedly prepares to ask chief inspector of constabulary Tom Winsor to review the force over the bungled probe.