Sketches by Isobel Williams from Proof magazine

Sketches by Isobel Williams from Proof magazine

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.


Profile photo of Joanna Fleck About Joanna Fleck
Joanna is a civil liberties solicitor with a background in challenging police misconduct and inquests following deaths in custody

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  • Christopher Lennon March 22, 2016 7:17 pm

    Some frighteningly careless use of language in this ‘News’ post, especially coming from a solicitor.
    Let me state at the outset, I am one of those who welcome the termination of Operation Midland, which seems to me to have been a sick farce.
    Former MP Harvey Proctor was told this week that no action will be taken against him, not “no further action”, because there has been none taken. It is an important difference, unless you are seeking to imply something sinister.
    ‘Nick’ has now become a “witness”, although he was never called to give evidence in court, of course, because no corroborating evidence for his rather wild allegations could be found, including any of the ‘murders’ he described, which were not reported anywhere, nor was anyone identifiably linked to those described reported missing. Complainants who do go on to be witnesses are only ‘victims’ if someone is convicted, surely? The word is bandied around far too loosely, again, here, by a solicitor, of all people. To be clear, there is no evidence or record anywhere of a young boy being run down by a car, which could hardly have avoided publicity.
    DS Kenny Macdonald’s reference to Nick’s allegations as “credible and true” drove a coach and horses through the presumption of innocence, with which one must assume a solicitor would be familiar. It is not ‘a fine line’, but an absolutely firm line an investigating officer must not cross and hence the justified outcry. No policeman has any right to form any views of guilt beyond the evidence being referred, if sufficient, which this was not, to the CPS. If he is in the habit of doing so, then he ought not to be a policeman.
    Was it Harvey Proctor who ‘identified’ the late Ted Heath, Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan and Lord Janner? I don’t think so; it was the Police themselves, infamously posting an officer outside the gate of Ted Heath’s former home. No one who ever met and remembers Ted Heath could believe the allegations for one moment and neither would any reasonable person listening to Lord Bramall’s interview with the BBC this morning. I personally take the same view with regard to Lord Brittan, I also once met, exonerated post mortem, his widow receiving a visit from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. The allegations against the late Lord Janner were entirely separate from Operation Midland, if I recall correctly, but linked here for effect.
    None of these persons were ever “suspects”, or “accused”, please note, Joanna, but only questioned, in the case of those living and what Harvey Proctor is quite rightly advocating is anonymity for those questioned, but not charged with anything, as in his case and that of Paul Gambaccini, for example, who has made a similar protest. After all, ‘Nick’ and people like him, who may be fantacists, in some cases, for all we know, enjoy complete anonymity and it appears there is no question of charging him with wasting police time, or even assessing his mental state, even after the expenditure of some £18 Million on the abortive investigation.
    There has been no evidence whatsoever linking the disappearance of either Martin Allen or Vishal Mehrotra to the allegations the subject of the investigation, so why mention them in this post? Those unfortunate boys may well have been the victims of paedophile murderers, one must fear, but it is nothing more than salacious gossip to suggest any link with politicians or other prominent persons.
    The Independent Police Commission investigation is made to sound like a consolation prize for all those disappointed by the failure of Operation Midland, but it also serves here to suggest the politicians may have got away with something, which is an innuendo completely unjustified by anything revealed so far.

  • Ian Hynes March 23, 2016 2:35 pm

    ‘Proctor identified ‘others’?.
    ‘No policeman has any right to form any views of guilt beyond the evidence being referred, if sufficient, which this was not, to the CPS’.

    Throughout all this reporting and commentary I’ve yet to hear observation about false or implanted memory (though may have missed it somewhere), nor do I know if it featured at any stage of the investigation.
    In such case(s) however the ‘complainant’ isn’t ‘lying’ or misleading, neither are they necessarily suffering a mental illness. They may very well believe what they are saying. ‘Nick’ might neither have wasted police time or made malicious allegations.
    Combine general police ignorance of such a ‘memory’ with diminishing investigative expertise and politicisation of the police in England and Wales and you have a toxic recipe for precisely these disastrous miscarriages.
    Furthermore, and at the risk of semantics, the phraseology used is crucial.
    Ostensible ‘witnesses’ should NOT become victims until their accounts are internally or externally verified though they must be treated with respectful empathy at all times, a debate raging as I write with contrasting views of Sir BHH and Sir TW, albeit BHH only seems to have changed his stance in the light of well publicised reviews.

    I do find myself wondering (and really hope I’m wrong!) that if a nominal investment had been made at the front end of this investigation it could have saved the reputional damage of so many stakeholders let alone the £1.8 million or so it cost?

    I do have a specific case study of similar ‘allegations’ that were rebutted by a bit of investigative effort at that front end which saved a £million multi victim murder enquiry and serious reputational damage to many individuals

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