‘Brilliant whitewash’: Police watchdog clears Met over Operation Midland fiasco

The police watchdog has been accused of ‘whitewash’ over its decision to clear senior Metropolitan police officers for their role in the shambolic investigation into VIP paedophile investigation. Operation Midland cost £2.5m of taxpayers’ money, lasted for 16 months but resulted in no arrests and failed to identify any evidence despite an assurance by its lead officer that the allegations of a single unnamed witness were ‘credible and true’.

You can read an interview with Harvey Proctor here.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has decided that there will be no further action against five police officers (not named) – including, a detective chief inspector, a detective inspector and a detective sergeant. The IPCC looked at whether the officers failed to properly investigate the allegations made by ‘Nick’ and whether they fully appraised a district judge when applying for search warrants for three properties.

On March 4, 2015 there were a series of dawn raids on the homes of former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor Sir Leon Brittan and Britain’s most decorated soldier, D-Day veteran Lord Bramall. The Met sent 20 officers to Lord Bramall’s house, a man in his 90s who lived with his dying wife.

According to the IPCC, there was ‘no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty and no indication any of the officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings’.

Harvey Proctor was scathing about the watchdog’s determination. He called it ‘a brilliant whitewash’ which flew in the face of a report by a former high court judge Sir Richard Henriques, commissioned by the Met’s former boss Sir Bernard Hogan Howe. His report  and which identified no less than 43 mistakes made by the force. ‘How many errors do the Met need to make before the IPCC will take action?’ he asked.

In August 2015 Harvey Proctor directly challenged the police in a press conference when he read from their own disclosure letter cataloguing the outlandish claims made by ‘Nick’ (for example, that the ex PM Ted Heath stopped Proctor from castrating Nick with a penknife). These were the allegations that Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald asserted were ‘credible and true’ in December 2014 at the start of the investigation.

Proctor said it was ‘extraordinary’ that the IPCC did not look into McDonald’s statement which Sir Richard identified as a mistake on the part of the Met. ‘The policy of ‘believing victims’ strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process,’ the former judge wrote. ‘It has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale.’ Proctor said the IPCC had ‘cleared’ McDonald without even investigating the impact of the statement which, he claimed, ‘prejudiced the entire investigation’.

‘It is my view that no police officer will ever be held responsible for the bungled and disastrous Operation Midland that has ruined my life and left me destitute,’ Proctor said. ‘In the future the MPS and the IPCC will pay a heavy price for its refusal to properly investigate the MPS for its disastrous shortcomings under Operations Midland and Vincente (an unrelated investigation into an allegation of sexual assault by Lord Brittan).’

He challenged Cressida Dick, the new Met commissioner, to publish the Henriques Report in full.

‘What faith can any ordinary citizen have in common sense in the British Police force of today?  The IPCC expect me to accept that my reputation and life and that of others is destroyed because of the “climate in which Operation Midland (was) undertaken”. I cannot. This is no just excuse and adds insult to injury. The context in which Operation Midland was conducted was not just. The Police waltzed with a fantasist on the head of a pin! Now they dare not admit their incompetence and  personal  liability.’
Harvey Proctor

It has been determined that there is no such indication in respect of similar allegations against a deputy assistant commissioner (DAC) and a detective superintendent (DSupt). As a result this part of the investigation against them has been discontinued.

The IPCC has also discontinued its investigation into allegations the DAC, DSupt and DCI failed to properly investigate allegations made by a complainant ‘Nick’ which led to an extended investigation causing prolonged and undue stress to those under suspicion. There is no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty and no indication any of the officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings. The information available indicates the investigation was extensive and carried out diligently with the majority of the decisions made appropriately recorded.

The MPS also referred the conduct of the DAC relating to allegations that an investigation into Lord Brittan was extended without good reason to do so thereby causing significant distress to Lord Brittan and his family. The evidence indicates a significant delay in making the decision to take no further action in the case but does not indicate the DAC may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings. As a result the IPCC has discontinued this part of the investigation.

The IPCC has also discontinued investigating allegations that there were irregularities in the seizure of exhibits during the subsequent searches. There is no evidence to indicate that any of the officers involved may have breached professional standards.

IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley said:

“The allegation that incomplete information may have been provided to a district judge when applying for search warrants is serious and the IPCC will thoroughly investigate this matter.

“However, a thorough assessment into the other matters that were referred to the IPCC has been carried out. After considering the information resulting from that assessment, I am of the opinion that there is no indication that these matters would amount to behaviour which would justify disciplinary proceedings. Consequently, I have taken the early decision to discontinue the independent investigation into those matters.

“In coming to that conclusion I have been very conscious of the fact that the force has already acknowledged its shortcomings in the investigation into the late Lord Brittan and has apologised to Lady Brittan.

“It is also important to acknowledge the climate in which Operation Midland and the investigation into Lord Brittan were being undertaken. At this time there was much concern that cover-ups by the ‘establishment’ had taken place and there was widespread intense scrutiny on both investigations. The way both investigations were conducted should be considered in that context and in line with policies which existed at that time.”

 

. Jon Robins meets Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP who became embroiled in the ill-fated investigation

 

 

 

have been cleared of all wrongdoing over the catastrophic investigation into political and military figures falsely accused of child sex abuse and murder.

 

 

It is with disbelief that the IPCC today issued a “cover up” statement concerning 5 Police Officers implicated by Sir Richard Henriques’ s Report of November 2016 on their role in Operation Midland and Operation Vincente.

 

The Statement has been issued on Budget Day just as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was making his Statement in the House of Commons. I do not believe the timing of this IPCC statement is, as Adam Stacey says in a letter to me, “coincidental”. The IPCC  follow the well trodden path of the MPS in managing news – the partial Henriques Report was published on the USA Election Day. The IPCC and the MPS have connived, once again, at media manipulation. I wonder what they are afraid of in these matters?

 

The IPCC have discontinued their investigation of a DAC, Steve Rodhouse, and a D Supt with no full and open investigation of the origin of those fateful words “credible and true” issued by D Supt Kenny McDonald on 18th December  2014 which prejudiced the whole investigation under Operation Midland.

 

The IPCC has not investigated why these Operations were not conducted expeditiously.

 

The IPCC have not taken into account that all suspects targeted by “Nick” in Operation Midland, in the words of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the former MPS Commissioner, were “innocent”. I have received an apology from Sir Bernard. However, the MPS have silenced those closest to “Nick” who know he is a fantasist – his mother, ex wife, siblings – by maintaining his anonymity.

 

The IPCC have not investigated why the MPS did not investigate a fantasist “Nick” and accepted his allegations at face value.

 

The IPCC have told me I am “an interested party” under the Police Reform Act (PRA) and yet  I have not been asked to give any evidence to help and assist their enquiries. Why not?

 

Three junior officers are still under investigation for misleading a district judge to obtain a search warrant of my house and yet the IPCC say no further action will be taken with reference to items taken by the police during the search of my house. Yet they have pre-empted their own IPCC investigation of the former by concluding a decision on the latter. It ignores logic. If the search warrant was illegal because the District Judge was misled then the seizure of my belongings during the search was also illegal.

 

This brilliant whitewash by the IPCC statement flies in the face of the Henriques Report which stated that 43 errors were made by the MPS in Operation Midland. How many errors do the MPS need to make before the IPCC will take action ?

 

It is my view that no police officer will ever be held responsible for the bungled and disastrous Operation Midland that has ruined my life and left me destitute. In the future the MPS and the IPCC will pay a heavy price for its refusal to properly investigate the MPS for its disastrous shortcomings under Operations Midland and Vincente.

 

If the IPCC and the MPS have nothing to hide then I challenge Cressida Dick, the new MPS Commissioner, to publish the Henriques Report in full today or whenever there is , for their media management cover up purposes, another major news day !

 

What faith can any ordinary citizen have in common sense in the British Police force of today?  The IPCC expect me to accept that my reputation and life and that of others is destroyed because of the “climate in which Operation Midland (was) undertaken”. I cannot.

This is no just excuse and adds insult to injury. The context in which Operation Midland was conducted was not just.

 

The Police waltzed with a fantasist on the head of a pin! Now they dare not admit their incompetence and  personal  liability.

 

K Harvey Proctor

Ref Credible and True – extraordinary the MPS did not put those words or their investigation into their terms of reference for the IPCC> The IPCC therefore have “cleared” McDonald without investigating his Credible and True Statement.

 

Two senior Metropolitan police officers have been cleared of all wrongdoing over the catastrophic investigation into political and military figures falsely accused of child sex abuse and murder.

The police watchdog’s announcement – that the officers in charge of £2.5 million Operation Midland would face no further action – coincided with the delivery of the Chancellor’s Budget, prompting accusations of a ‘whitewash’.

The findings of a previous report by Sir Richard Henriques, a retired High Court judge, that found ‘significant failings’ and more than 40 areas of concern was made public by the Metropolitan Police on the day of the US presidential elections.

Field Marshall Lord Bramall, 93, a D-Day veteran and former head of the Army, who was falsely accused of being a member of a VIP paedophile ring, said of the watchdog’s decision to clear the officers: “That is ridiculous. It is absolutely absurd. The police themselves admitted they had got it so wrong.”

Harvey Proctor, who was wrongly accused of murder, spoke of his disgust that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had chosen the day of the Budget to make its announcement.

It is my view that no police officer will ever be held responsible for the bungled and disastrous Operation Midland that has ruined my life and left me destitute.Harvey Proctor

Mr Proctor said: “This brilliant whitewash by the IPCC statement flies in the face of the Henriques Report which stated that 43 errors were made by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in Operation Midland.

“It is my view that no police officer will ever be held responsible for the bungled and disastrous Operation Midland that has ruined my life and left me destitute.”

Mr Proctor said he did not believe the IPCC’s assurance that the timing of the statement was ‘coincidental’, adding: “The IPCC  follows the well trodden path of the MPS in managing news.”

Mr Proctor along with Lord Bramall and Lord Brittan, the former home secretary, and others found themselves falsely suspected of being members of a VIP paedophile ring.

Their accuser, who can be identified only as ‘Nick’, is himself now under investigation for perverting the course of justice.

‘Nick’ had claimed that Mr Proctor had tried to castrate him with a penknife but that Sir Edward Heath had intervened to prevent it.

The IPCC did not name the officers who have been cleared but they are understood to be Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse and Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald.

Det Supt McDonald had announced that the claims made by ‘Nick’ were both ‘credible and true’ in a press conference in November 2014. The IPCC said on Wednesday that it had not been asked to investigate that ill-advised comment when the case was referred by Scotland Yard towards the end of last year.

The IPCC concluded that Operation Midland was “extensive and carried out diligently” by a deputy assistant commissioner, a detective superintendent and a detective chief inspector.

The watchdog insisted there was no evidence to indicate “bad faith, malice or dishonesty” by the officers.

However, the unnamed detective chief inspector and two junior detectives remain under investigation over allegations they may have misled a judge obtaining search warrants.

I am of the opinion that there is no indication that these matters would amount to behaviour which would justify disciplinary proceedings,Carl Gumsley, IPCC Commissioner

Carl Gumsley, IPCC Commissioner who leads the inquiry, said: “The allegation that incomplete information may have been provided to a district judge when applying for search warrants is serious and the IPCC will thoroughly investigate this matter.”

Mr Gumsley said that officers had been cleared of wrongdoing on all other issues.

“I am of the opinion that there is no indication that these matters would amount to behaviour which would justify disciplinary proceedings,” he said, “Consequently, I have taken the early decision to discontinue the independent investigation into those matters.”

The IPCC denied its statement had been buried on Budget day. A spokesman said: “We can state categorically that the fact of budget day had no bearing on our update. The information was provided to interested persons and published at the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Rodhouse  was also under investigation over claims he had extended a separate investigation into Lord Brittan without good reason.

But the IPCC cleared Mr Rodhouse of wrongdoing. The IPCC said: “The evidence indicates a significant delay in making the decision to take no further action in the case but does not indicate the DAC may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings.”

 

Profile photo of Jon Robins About Jon Robins
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award

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