Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has admitted “mistakes were made” by officers investigating fantasy claims of a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster, first reported by journalists at Exaro News.
Dick (pictured) also apologised for the damage in trust caused by the police’s failures.
- January 6, 2020
- October 7, 2019
- July 26, 2019
Ex-nurse Carl Beech was the star witness for the Met’s two-year investigation into his claims of historical sex abuse, dubbed Operation Midland, which cost £2.5m and ended in 2016 without any arrests.
Beech, 51, from Gloucester, was found guilty in July of perverting the course of justice and fraud and is currently serving an 18-year sentence.
His lies, told while protected under the pseudonym “Nick”, smeared the reputations of a number of high-profile figures, including former Prime Minister the late Sir Edward Heath.
The Met had wrongly said Beech’s claims were “credible and true” during their investigation and raided the homes of those falsely accused by Beech of being child abusers. He also claimed the ring had committed murder.
Police watchdog the Independent Office of Police Conduct yesterday published the findings of its review into Operation Midland, exonerating five officers of allegations of misconduct.
But, it added: “The investigation revealed gaps and shortcomings where there is room for improvement to reduce the risk of future failings.”
Former High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques, who had carried out an independent review into the police operation earlier this year, said the IOPC’s inquiry had been “flawed”.
He said he found it “difficult to conceive that no misconduct or criminality was involved by at least one officer” during the operation.
Writing in the Times today, Dick said “Mistakes were made and we are determined to learn from them.”
She added: “Unfortunately, some complainants still lie. The complainant in Operation Midland, Carl Beech, was a liar who has quite rightly been imprisoned for perverting the course of justice and fraud.
“He is the only person responsible for spinning the tangled web of lies that led to these investigations.”
Dick said Beech’s false allegations were made as police dealt with a “torrent” of historical sexual abuse claims “against a backdrop of intense scrutiny”.
She went on: “I still firmly believe that there was no malice and officers did their very best.
“I know that not everyone will agree with this view and, for some, this is an issue that has fundamentally damaged their trust in us, and I am deeply sorry for this.
“Although mistakes were made, officers will not withdraw from complicated, sensitive or high-profile inquiries and will continue to treat complainants with respect, empathy and an open mind.”
Beech’s lies were reported by now-defunct investigative news outfit Exaro News in 2014, which led directly to the police inquiry into them. Its then-editor Mark Watts said Exaro had reported on the case in good faith.
Picture: Reuters/Simon Dawson