COPS who fell for a sex abuse fantasist’s lies about a murderous VIP paedophile ring botched the multi-million probe over “poor judgement”, a damning report found.
The Met Police were accused of “institutional stupidity” following the publication of the 400-page review, which identified a catalogue of catastrophic failings.
Former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques said the £2million probe, which smeared innocent public figures, said a factor was “the culture that ‘victims’ must be believed”.
Operation Midland was launched when Carl Beech spun an “extraordinary tale” about “three child murders, multiple rapes, kidnapping, false imprisonment and widespread sexual abuse”.
The fantasist’s lies led to the homes of senior public figures being raided including a former Prime Minister, a former Army chief, and head of MI5 and MI6.
Beech was caged in July for 18 years – with victims and their families calling for the heads of officers involved and Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who backed the liar.
‘LESSONS TO BE LEARNED’
The report said: “Whilst the responsible officers assert that they kept an open mind, several failures can only be explained by an unwarranted and disproportionate belief in ‘Nick’s’ credibility.
“The most significant error in this investigation was the decision to apply for search warrants coupled with formulating inaccurate statements which were placed before the district judge.
“But for that decision, this investigation may well have been completed without the dreadful adverse consequences I have described.”
The officer in charge of Operation Midland Steve Rodhouse apologised for the “distress” caused and said the report shows there are “clearly lessons to be learned for future investigations”.
But Watson, who was accused of fuelling a witch-hunt by making Parliamentary speeches to bolster Beech’s lurid accusations, instead said the review had “multiple inaccuracies”.
He said: “I have always said that it wasn’t my place to judge whether sexual abuse allegations were true or false – that was for the police.”
The MP also said it wasn’t made clear letters from him were sent to police after they had interviewed Lord Brittan – rather than him putting “pressure” on cops to quiz him.
Former home secretary Lord Brittan had his home raided by officers while battling terminal cancer and died before his name was cleared.
Among those calling for him to resign is Daniel Janner, QC, the son of late Labour MP Lord Janner, who Beech falsely accused of being in a VIP Paedophile ring.
Arriving at court for the sentencing, he said: “Watson should hang his head in shame, apologise and resign.”
One of the sordid claims made by Beech during 20 hours of police interviews was that he had held the hand of a dying young boy – murdered in front of him by former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
The politician was forced to deny “he is a sadistic child killer and that he committed other serious sexual offences” and lost his job as a result of the raids on his home.
His barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC said: “Operation Midland was conducted incompetently, negligently and almost with institutional stupidity.”
While Mr Proctor, who is seeking damages from the Met, added: “I am grateful to Judge Henriques for this coruscating report about the incompetence, negligence and likely criminality of the police officers of Operation Midland who deliberately and unlawfully trashed my life and reputation and that of public men more illustrious than myself.”
WEB OF LIES
In October 2012, Watson first raised the claims in Parliament and later met Beech to discuss the allegations he made.
He claimed he’d seen “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”.
Beech was interviewed by the Met and Operation Midland was a launched in 2014.
Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald publicly described “Nick’s” claims as “credible and true” — despite the fact they had not been fully investigated.
Twenty officers worked full-time for 16 months on the case. They took 370 witness statements, launched 1,700 actions and produced 1,860 documents – but not a single arrest was made.
Among those also accused was ex-British Army chief Lord Bramall, whose wife of 64 years died during the investigation before his named was cleared.
GAPING HOLES IN STORY
The D-Day veteran, who was injured twice after storming Normandy in June 1944, said the fantasist’s lies were worse than his war wounds.
In 2016, Operation Midland was scrapped and Northumbria Police were tasked to investigate Beech himself and discovered gaping holes in his story which the Met failed to find.
In a chilling twist of “breath-taking hypocrisy”, Beech was himself was a paedophile with an interest in pre-teen boys.
He was convicted of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud by jurors after just four hours of deliberation at Newcastle Crown Court.
Scotland Yard’s Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House admitted “mistakes were made” but said the force does not agree with “everything Sir Richard wrote in his report or indeed all of his recent statements regarding further investigations into the actions of officers”.
Downing Street said the public needed to be assured that the Met had learnt lessons from the case.
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A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “This is a deeply concerning case. The trial of Carl Beech raised serious issues over the Metropolitan Police response.
“We welcome the decision to publish further detail. It is vital the public receives independent assurances that the Met has learnt lessons identified in this review.
“That is why the Home Secretary has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to follow up on the report’s findings and ensure the necessary improvements have been made and continue to be made.”