Watson feels ‘very deeply’ for those caught up in bungled VIP abuse inquiry

Tom Watson has said he feels “very deeply” for those caught up in the failed police investigation into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring but insisted he was trying to do “the right thing”.

The Labour deputy leader has been sharply criticised for his role in promoting the false claims by the fantasist Carl Beech which led to a number of public figures facing high-profile investigations for alleged child abuse.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, he said he was “very, very sorry” for the way events turned out but stopped short of apologising to those who were wrongly accused.

“I hate to see people in pain. I genuinely feel very deeply for the people who have had injustices done to them as a result of the failed police inquires – I really do,” he said.

“I understand why they are angry and I understand why some of the anger is targeted at me.

“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, but I don’t want people to question my motives either. I did my best, that’s all you can do in life.

“I am genuinely very, very sorry that the inquires didn’t go the way they did. I genuinely was trying to do the right thing.”

Mr Watson has faced calls to resign after a review by the retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques found his interest in the case put pressure on police in Operation Midland to pursue Beech’s allegations.

Among those who faced investigation were the former home secretary, the late Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, the former chief of the defence staff, Lord Bramall, and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor.

Mr Watson, however, said that he could cope with the “turmoil” the case had caused and that he did not allow his critics to “get” to him.

“Right now I am in the middle of a storm where people question my motives,” he said.

“Ten years ago that would have really eaten away at me. Now I think I feel more settled in myself so that doesn’t eat away at me.

“They don’t get to me any more. I am in a fairly brutal world. I think I have just found a way of dealing with the turmoil of it.”

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