Former judge criticises police probe into ‘Nick’ officers
The former High Court judge who demanded five police officers face an inquiry over their investigations into false claims about a VIP paedophile ring at Westminster has denounced the watchdog which cleared them of misconduct.
Sir Richard Henriques said the probe by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was “flawed”, and that “no effective interrogations” took place.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Sir Richard expressed deep concern over the watchdog’s “lack of knowledge of criminal procedure”, and called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to take action.
His comments come as the IOPC prepares to table its reasons for exonerating the five officers involved in investigating claims of the paedophile ring.
The claims were spread by the man initially known as Nick, convicted paedophile Carl Beech, who is now serving 18 years in jail for perjury and other offences.
Sir Richard spent several months investigating Scotland Yard over its original investigation, dubbed Operation Midland.
His report was released in full last week, in which he said police had wasted £2.5 million investigating the bogus claims, and revealed that officers made 43 major errors, including unlawfully obtaining search warrants for the homes of former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Bramall, ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor, and Lady Brittan, widow of former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.
Writing in the Mail, Sir Richard said he found it “difficult to conceive that no misconduct or criminality was involved by at least one officer” on the 16-month inquiry, which ended without any arrests or charges.
“Whilst all five, absent any proper investigation, must be presumed innocent, the responsibility of the IOPC was to carry out a high-quality investigation in a timely manner. The delay in reaching their findings of almost three years is gross and inexcusable and goes some way to inhibiting any further investigation.
“The investigative process itself was minimal, unprofessional and the decision-making was flawed.”
Sir Richard said the two most senior officers among the five investigated – Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse and Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald – had not been asked “a single question in interview … written answers having been accepted without questioning”.
“The investigation of the three more junior officers proceeded so slowly that all of them had retired by the time any decision was reached,” Sir Richard added. “Had disciplinary measures been ordered, they could no longer have been imposed.”
Sir Richard concluded: “Maintenance of law and order depends upon the effective oversight of those invested with power. Who guards the guards themselves? A malfunctioning police force has not received the necessary oversight.”