Met should be investigated over VIP paedophile ring probe, says retired Lancashire judge

The Metropolitan Police has come under pressure from a Lancashire-based former High Court judge to investigate the way its officers handled the probe into claims of a murderous VIP paedophile ring.

Sir Richard Henriques
Sir Richard Henriques

Former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who in 2016 ran a review of the investigation, said he believes warrants to search the properties of high-profile figures were "obtained unlawfully".

Sir Richard still lives on the Fylde coast and practised around Lancashire in many criminal trials. He retired in 2013.

His review found more than 40 areas of concern stemming from the actions of investigating officers involved in the £2 million Operation Midland, which was based on the lies told by Carl Beech, a fantasist who was formerly known as "Nick".

Carl Beech, who made wild claims about VIPs and politicians

It ran from 2014 to 2016 and closed without a single arrest being made.

Former MP Harvey Proctor, whose home was raided in connection with the probe, said he was "pleased" with Sir Richard's comments and there should be a criminal investigation into Operation Midland.

He called for the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary to set up an independent investigation, adding: "I take no satisfaction to having my view that the Metropolitan Police force were wrong in the way that they investigated 'Nick'."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said last week that no officers would face misconduct charges over the case.

In a comment piece published in the Daily Mail, Sir Richard restates his opinion that the warrants authorising the searches of the homes of Lord Edwin Bramall, Lady Diana Brittan and Mr Proctor "were obtained unlawfully".

Sir Richard wrote that three applications for search warrants stated Beech's allegations had been consistent, but he had not found that to be the case.

He added: "I remain unable to conclude that every officer acted with due diligence and in good faith.

"I concluded in 2016 - and I remain of the view - that the officers responsible for the three applications did not in fact fully believe that there were reasonable grounds to believe Beech's allegations."

The allegations of Beech to Wiltshire Police in 2012 were "inconsistent" with those made to the Metropolitan Police in 2014 and with blogs published by Beech in 2014, Sir Richard said.

"Thus the course of justice was perverted with shocking consequences. A criminal investigation should surely follow."

Beech, 51, was last week given an 18-year prison sentence for 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.

He had told the Metropolitan Police repeated falsehoods during hours of tearful interviews in which he claimed to have been sadistically abused by high-profile figures from the worlds of politics, the armed forces and security services.

His allegations included claims he had been taken out of lessons during the 1970s and 1980s to be abused and he had witnessed three children murdered at the hands of the invented VIP ring.

Mr Proctor told PA: "As far as a criminal case is concerned, I believe that an outside police force should look at this and, because of the thorough and forensic way they conducted their investigation into Carl Beech, that consideration should be given to going to Northumbria Police to investigate.

"Northumbria Police have restored my faith in British policing, which was lost entirely by the Metropolitan Police. They went on far too long. They should never have started their investigation Operation Midland before investigating their complainant, who was making incredible claims and causing a lot of damage."

During a victim impact statement that was read at Beech's trial, Mr Proctor spoke of the reputational damage he had suffered after his home was raided.

The former Basildon and Billericay MP said he had been spat at by the public, branded a paedophile and a murderer, and that Beech's allegations "would cause ordinary people to revile and despise me".

He had previously explained how the former nurse's lies led to him stepping down from his role as private secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.

Daniel Janner, whose father Lord Janner of Braunstone QC faced allegations of child sex abuse, called for the IOPC report to be reopened "with a view to as to whether or not former police officers were guilty of misfeasance in a public office in light of Sir Richard's comments".

The family of the former Labour peer have always maintained his innocence.

Scotland Yard said the IOPC had looked into allegations about how the search warrants were handled and it was found that the three officers involved had no case to answer.

This came after it had referred potential conduct matters relating to five officers which had been identified in Sir Richard's report.

A spokesman said: "None of the five officers involved in the original referral or the three officers subject to investigation were found to have cases to answer in relation to any of the allegations."

All those involved in the allegations which were referred to the IOPC have either retired or moved to other jobs and are no longer serving Met Police officers.

A retired Detective Superintendent who was among those who had been referred has a civilian role within the force, the spokesman said.

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