Yesterday the Metropolitan police announced the end of its 17 month investigation into alleged sexual abuse and murder of young boys linked to high profile Westminster suspects.
Ex-MP Harvey Procter, who was told this week that no further action would be taken against him in respect of the allegations, responded with an open letter in the Daily Telegraph urging Parliament to make changes to the law to protect those accused of such grave crimes.
Proctor was interviewed by police following allegations of a witness, known only as ‘Nick’ that young boys had been the victims of a VIP paedophile ring, involving politicians, around London and the home counties, including at the Westminster flats Dolphin House, between 1975 and 1984. The investigation first focussed on allegations of one murder, but expanded to include two more. Nick alleged he had witnessed the strangulation of a 12 year old boy by a Conservative MP and a 10 year old boy was deliberately knocked over and killed by a car driven by one of the abusers.
Much of the ire directed towards this police operation focussed on the words of Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald who described the allegations of Nick to be ‘credible and true’. Scotland Yard later conceded that it should not have described the allegations as ‘true’. The police are tasked with investigating offences and finding evidence of guilt (or innocence) but not of casting judgement on the accused. In reality however, this is a fine line, and no doubt each officer will have their own views on the veracity of claims they are investigating.
Procter was never arrested but was interviewed by police in June 2015, and at a press conference in August that year identified the late ex-Prime Minister Ted Heath, Lord Bramall (retired senior army officer), former peers Lord Janner and Lord Brittan, and the former heads of MI5 and MI6.
Procter argued not only for anonymity for suspects, but for widespread legal protections, including legal remedies against Google and internet service providers for ‘publishing’ accusations. He blamed the internet news agency Exaro for publishing leaks from the police that ultimately identified him.
The Met do not intend to investigate Nick, stating that they do not believe he ‘knowlingly’ misled the police. Theforce have had 31 officers working on the investigation and the most recent estimate of its cost was £1.7 million. Only last year a review by Dame Elish Angionlioni highlighted several concerning areas of current practice in investigating rape and serious sexual offences. She warned of the ‘conveyor belt’ style of working combined with the relatively low rates of successful prosecution and enormous workloads of those working in the system, and problems with burnout and staff sickness levels.
The family of Martin Allen, who went missing aged 15 in 1979, are still without answers. The Met have confirmed their homicide team will continue investigating his disappearance. The murder of eight year old Vishal Mehrotra is still unsolved. Those named as the accused feel their lives have been upturned and ruined by false accusations, while victims await their turn for justice in the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
Although the Met investigation has ended without any individuals being charged, the Independent Police Complaints Commission continues to investigate potential corruption and negligence by officers investigating at the time, including serious claims of cover-ups to protect politicians.
Joanna is a civil liberties solicitor with a background in challenging police misconduct and inquests following deaths in custody