Police watchdog probe into officers’ conduct during Operation Midland could be reopened if ‘new and compelling’ evidence came to light, says IOPC chief
- Director general of the IOPC told MPs it can reopen cases amid fresh information
- The Met probed false claims of a VIP paedophile ring from fantasist Carl Beech
- It saw raids on the houses of ex-home secretary Lord Brittan and Lord Bramall
- The investigation ended in 2016 without an arrest after Beech’s lurid false claims
The police watchdog could consider reopening its probe into how officers conducted themselves during the failed Operation Midland if ‘new and compelling’ evidence was presented, its boss has said.
Michael Lockwood, director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), told MPs the body is now allowed to reopen cases if fresh information indicates its original findings were flawed.
Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, he said: ‘If somebody provides me with compelling, new information – significant new information – which would come to the view that the original decision was flawed, then I would scope that, talk to the individual parties and make a decision (as to) whether that is something we do. We have done that in other cases.’
The Metropolitan Police’s 16-month investigation into false claims of a VIP paedophile ring from fantasist Carl Beech saw raids on the homes of former home secretary Lord Brittan, as well as D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
The probe ended in 2016 without a single arrest, after Beech made a series of lurid claims, all later proved to be untrue, including three murders.
Michael Lockwood (pictured), director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, told MPs the body is now allowed to reopen cases if fresh information indicates its original findings were flawed
The Metropolitan Police’s (right, Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick) 16-month investigation into false claims of a VIP paedophile ring from fantasist Carl Beech (left) saw raids on the homes of former home secretary Lord Brittan, as well as D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor
The force was heavily criticised for believing Beech too readily despite inconsistencies in his evidence, including naming witnesses that did not exist.
One of the most serious accusations levelled at investigators was that they allegedly misled a district judge when applying for search warrants.
Pictured: Ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor, whose house was raided during the operation
An independent review into the case by former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques claimed that the judge had been knowingly misled.
Despite this, the IOPC cleared the five officers involved in the application of any wrongdoing.
On Wednesday MPs again questioned IOPC bosses over its review of how officers conducted themselves during Operation Midland.
In particular, the committee highlighted criticism by Sir Richard of the watchdog’s inquiry being ‘lamentable and inadequate.’
But Mr Lockwood defended it as a ‘comprehensive report’ involving ‘experienced’ staff.
When asked how IOPC decisions could be challenged and whether those relating to Operation Midland could be reviewed, Mr Lockwood said the courts could scrutinise their findings if a judicial review was brought against the body.
The IOPC now also has the power to reopen an investigation if it was deemed there are valid reasons for doing so, he added.
Earlier this year Lady Diana Brittan (left, with Sir Malcolm Rifkind) – who was given compensation and an official apology by The Met – told the committee those affected by the failed investigation had still not received justice
Earlier this year Lady Diana Brittan – who was given compensation and an official apology by The Met – told the committee those affected by the failed investigation had still not received justice.
Her homes in London and Yorkshire were raided in 2015 as part of Operation Midland amid the allegations against her late husband.
How one man’s false claims ended with disastrous raids on homes of veterans and politicians
2011: Beech downloads a criminal injuries compensation form later found on his PC
2012: Carl Beech gives his first interview, to Wiltshire Police, in which he claims to have been abused by his step-father and Jimmy Savile. The enquiry was classified ‘undetected’ and taken no further.
October 22, 2014: Carl Beech begins to make his accusations to the Met Police in the first of five interviews between October and April. Over more than 20 hours of recorded police interviews, he makes lurid allegations of child rape and murder against senior Establishment figures including Ted Heath and Lord Brammall.
November 2014: Operation Midland launched with a dramatic appeal for witnesses in which Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald describes Beech’s allegations of years of abuse at the hands of VIPs in Westminster as ‘credible and true’.
March 2015: Twenty officers search the home of D-Day hero and former army chief Lord Bramall and his dying wife.
The homes of Harvey Proctor, the former Tory MP, and of the late home secretary Leon Brittan are also searched.
April 2015: D-Day veteran and former Army chief Lord Brammal has his home raided by a large team of police officers, and is interviewed.
June 2015: Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, whom Beech accused of child murder, has his home raided by and is interviewed under caution.
August 2015: Harvey Proctor holds a press conference revealing he has been accused of murder, child abuse and torture and denying all allegations. He accuses the Met of running a ‘gay witchhunt’.
September 2015: Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe admits the Met was wrong to describe claims as ‘credible and true’.
October 2015: Kenny McDonald replaced as head of Operation Midland
January 2016: Lord Bramall is told he will face no further action.
February 2016: Hogan-Howe announces an independent inquiry of Midland by Sir Richard Henriques, a retired high court judge.
March 2016: Harvey Proctor is told he will face no further action. Midland is wound up.
June 16, 2016: Beech is charged with five counts of making indecent images and one charge of voyeurism, which involved rigging up a camera to film a boy using a toilet
October 2016: Hogan-Howe apologises to Lord Bramall.
November 2016: The Henriques review concludes Operation Midland was ‘riddled with errors’, that the judge who approved search warrants was wrongly told Beech had been consistent in his testimony, that police seemed to set aside the presumption of innocence and that the reputations of the accused were traduced.
2016: Northumbria Police conclude Beech’s claims are ‘totally unfounded, hopelessly compromised, and irredeemably contradicted by other testimony’.
November 2, 2016: Police arrive to raid Beech’s home in Gloucester.
March 2017: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse and Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald are cleared of misconduct by an IOPC investigation into Operation Midland following the Henriques review.
September 2017: The Met pays Lord Bramall and Lady Brittan compensation understood to be around £100,000.
January 23, 2018: Beech gets £60,000 as an early pension from the NHS
February 6, 2018: He travels to Calais preparing to flee to Sweden, where he buys a cabin in the woods and lives under a series of assumed identities, travelling hundreds of miles from city to city to stay on the run
May 2018: Harvey Proctor sues Scotland Yard and Beech for £1million.
October 1, 2018: Beech was tracked down by Swedish and British police and arrested in advance of a 20-hour train journey to Gothenburg booked in the name of ‘Samuel Karlsson’.
2018: A highly critical review of Operation Midland reports police ‘acted like they were searching for bodies’ during raids on homes.
December 2018: restriction on reporting of Carl Beech’s real identity lifted.
January 2019: Beech pleads guilty to possessing child pornography, in a separate trial.
May 2019: Beech goes on trial for perverting the course of justice and fraud
July 2019: Beech found guilty of perverting the course of justice and fraud.
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