Priti Patel has called on the police watchdog to investigate Scotland Yard’s disastrous investigation into the ‘VIP paedophile ring’ arising from allegations made by a convicted fantasist. The home secretary has written to the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, asking him to review Operation Midland as more of a damning report by Sir Richard Henriques is expected to be published today.
Three years ago the retired judge identified 43 failings in relation to Operation Midland alone, including the Metropolitan Police’s public statement that the allegations of the sole complainant ‘Nick’ were ‘credible and true’ (as reported on the Justice Gap here). ‘The policy of ‘believing victims’ strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process,’ Sir Richard then wrote. ‘It has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale.’
Operation Midland, which cost £2.5 without a single arrest being made, concerned false claims made by Carl Beech who was jailed in July for 18 years for fabricating the allegations.
‘It is imperative that the public receive assurance that the Metropolitan Police has learned from the mistakes identified in Sir Richard’s report and have made – and continue to make – necessary improvements,’ writes Patel (as reported by Press Association). ‘To this end I am writing to you to request, under the provisions in s54 of the Police Act 1996, that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) undertake an inspection at the earliest practicable opportunity to follow up on Sir Richard’s review.’
Five officers had been referred to the police watchdog, then called the Independent Police Complaints Committee but it found no evidence of wrongdoing. Patel has asked for the inspection to take into account this investigation.
According to the report in the Daily Telegraph the barrister leading the Government’s child sex abuse inquiry warned Scotland Yard that Beech was ‘bogus’ months before officers shut down the investigation. ‘I was extremely sceptical about the allegations made by Carl Beech from the very outset,’ Ben Emmerson QC wrote. The barrister interviewed Beech in 2015 and said he told senior police officers that year not to believe his claims.
‘They had a ring of outlandish fabrication about them. I was concerned to try to understand why the Metropolitan Police had publicly described them as ‘credible’ when they appeared at face value to be so obviously bogus.’ in 2014, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald launched Operation Midland by saying: ‘Nick has been spoken to by experienced officers from the child abuse team and from the murder investigation team and they, and I, believe what Nick is saying is credible and true, hence why we are investigating the allegations that he has made.’