LABOUR’s Tom Watson was urged to quit politics last night after being accused by a judge of putting pressure on cops to investigate VIP’s over bogus sex abuse claims.
A damning report by Judge Sir Richard Henriques also accused the police of “institutional stupidity” in the scandal.
Cressida Rose Dick has been told she should consider her position as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police[/caption]
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has been urged to quit after being accused of pressuring cops[/caption]
Sir Richard Henriques’s report also said Labour deputy leader Mr Watson panicked cops into pursuing a baseless rape claim against former Tory minister Lord Brittan.
The Met issued a grovelling apology for failings in that case, and in its separate £4.5million Operation Midland inquiry.
One of those accused, ex-MP Harvey Proctor, demanded Mr Watson be sacked, and said Met chief Dame Cressida Dick should consider her position.
Sir Richard’s report said the allegation from 1967 against Lord Brittan by a woman, 19 at the time, should never have been pursued.
DCI Paul Settle was forced off the investigation, called Operation Vincente, after he tried to drop the case due to insufficient evidence.
It was reopened after Mr Watson wrote to then Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders.
Sir Richard said it should have been dropped at the very latest after Lord Brittan was interviewed under caution in 2014.
He died aged 75 in 2015 without being told he had been cleared. Cops waited another three months before informing his widow.
Sir Richard’s report said Vincente officers may have been “in a panic” over a letter sent by Mr Watson on Commons notepaper.
Details also emerged of the “Witchfinder General” Mr Watson’s role in Operation Midland, the bungled VIP sex abuse inquiry.
43 failings in the police's probe
THE report highlighted 43 failings in the Met Police investigation. Here are the worst of them:
- THEY believed Beech from the outset, while Wiltshire police had found his claims “all a bit odd” and said it “all sounds a bit ‘Spooks’.”
- WERE months late in interviewing Beech’s ex-wife and his mother, both of whose testimonies contradicted his claims.
- CARRIED out searches poorly. Property was seized not authorised by the warrant, the North Yorkshire search was conducted “as if looking for bodies or body parts”, property was not returned properly, and police contributed to the loss of anonymity of the accused.
- ASKED a psychologist to examine Beech, but did not provide his police interviews or blogs.
- DID not ask to inspect Beech’s computer due to the policy that “victims must be believed”.
- FAILED to check Beech’s computer when he provided emails, allegedly from a corroborating witness, which were copied and pasted to obscure the sender.
- SHOULD have terminated the investigation in December 2015 on advice from Crown Prosecution Service.
- SHOULD have dropped the investigation into Harvey Proctor in January 2016 when they dropped the case relating to Lord Bramall — because if Beech was unreliable in relation to one alleged abuser he was unreliable in relation to the other.
Sir Richard identified 43 failures in the probe which looked into claims made by convicted fantasist Carl Beech, known then as Nick.
A key failing was the assertion by Det Supt Kenny McDonald that Beech was a “credible and true” witness. Search warrants were “obtained unlawfully” after the magistrate who granted them was misled about Beech, said the report.
Mr Watson, who met Beech, brought the case up in Parliament and gave cops information.
Beech is serving 18 years for his lies.
He made allegations against 12 innocent men including former PM Sir Edward Heath, ex-MI6 chief Sir Maurice Oldfield, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and ex-Tory Mr Proctor. Beech said he and other boys were abused at military bases and London’s Dolphin Square residential complex. All claims were disproved.
Sir Richard said: “There can be no doubt Tom Watson believed Nick.”
The report credited Mr Watson for providing information leading to convictions in other cases. But it said his interest in Midland and Vincente created further pressure on officers. Mr Watson yesterday refused to apologise and accused the judge of inaccuracies.
Meanwhile Mr Proctor said: “Tom Watson should be sacked as deputy leader and resign his seat. The Houses of Parliament would be a much healthier place without him.”
He said of Ms Dick: “Her inaction was irresponsible and immoral.”
Lord Brittan’s widow told The Times: “The extent of Tom Watson’s involvement in this witch-hunt has been laid bare. His subsequent attempts to distance himself show a complete lack of integrity.
“He has shown that he is unfit to hold the office of MP.”
A redacted version of Sir Richard’s report was first released in November 2016. It led to five officers being referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, who oversaw the two probes, and Det Supt McDonald were cleared by the watchdog without even being questioned.
Carl Beech made claims against 12 innocent VIPs and is now serving 18 years for perverting justice[/caption]
DCI Diane Tudway, DI Alison Hepworth and Det Sgt Eric Sword were later absolved of blame. Sir Richard’s report said there had been “poor judgment and a failure to accurately evaluate known facts.”
A “major contributing factor” was the culture that victims must be believed. The report criticised DAC Rodhouse for failing to meet Beech or read his interviews, and said senior officers overlooked gross inconsistencies in Beech’s account.
Mr Rodhouse said yesterday: “I am sincerely sorry for the distress caused to innocent people.”
But he insisted he will stay on as £240,000-a-year deputy director with the National Crime Agency.
Met Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said the force was “deeply, deeply sorry”. Sir Richard’s report also detailed six other cases against celebrities and a politician.
They were left redacted as some details have not been put into the public domain. Four cases were probed by Operation Yewtree following the 2012 Jimmy Savile scandal.
Downing Street said the public needed to be assured that the Met had learnt lessons from the Midland and Vincente cases.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to ensure the report’s recommendations have been implemented.
How plot unfolded
- Dec 2012: Carl Beech complains about child sex abuse but Wiltshire Police take no action.
- Oct 2014: Beech makes allegations about high-profile figures to Met Police.
- Dec 2014: Launch of the Operation Midland probe into “Nick’s” claims of a VIP paedophile ring.
- March 2016: Midland closed with no arrests.
- Nov 2016: Beech’s home is raided by police.
- July 2018: “Nick” is charged with perverting justice and fraud.
- Dec 2018: Beech is unmasked after a reporting restriction is lifted.
- July 2019: He is sentenced to 18 years in jail.
PROCTOR: MY PAIN
Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor — whose home was raided as part of Operation Midland — said no one else should have to suffer from “monstrous abuses of police power”.
Ex-MP Harvey Proctor, one of those falsely accused, has said ‘parliament would be healthier’ without Tom Watson[/caption]
The retired politician, 72, told how his reputation had been “unlawfully trashed” after he was named by Beech to detectives investigating the false claims.
Mr Proctor said: “I do not seek revenge — I want certainty that this behaviour will not occur again and others will not suffer as I have from such monstrous abuses of police power.”
He also slammed Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, saying: “The police assigned to interview Beech yielded to pressure from Tom Watson — an irresponsible politician out for his own publicity.”
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Later yesterday he told BBC Radio 4 how the investigation had affected him.
He said: “I’m trying to get over it but it’s proving very difficult. I’m not the same person I used to be.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever be that person again. I’ve lost my job, my home, my repute. I’ve been the subject of death threats.”
THE SUN SAYS
IT is appalling and inexcusable that no one has paid any price over the Operation Midland fiasco which destroyed lives and cost taxpayers £4.5million.
Not its original chief Cressida Dick, now head of the Met. Nor her abysmal predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe, sitting pretty in the Lords. Nor the senior cops, who won promotions or retired.
Nor, somehow, Labour’s odious deputy leader Tom Watson. He cynically promoted Carl Beech’s blatant lies about veteran Tories. Then he directly lobbied the CPS to chase a baseless and ancient rape claim about Lord Brittan.
The ex-Home Secretary died with it hanging over him. Yet Watson shows no remorse. He just attempts to dodge blame. He should withdraw from public life today. As Lord Brittan’s widow says: “He is unfit to hold the office of MP.”
Watson aside, the police errors — from declaring Beech’s claims “credible and true” to securing search warrants under false pretences — were jaw-dropping.
Judge Sir Richard Henriques’ condemnation of their “institutional stupidity” is admirably on the money.
They wrecked innocent lives by giving blinkered credence to a paedophile’s ludicrous fantasies. It was catastrophic negligence and possibly illegal.
Home Secretary Priti Patel must not let apologies and “learned lessons” suffice.
While Labour must expel Watson, cops must face a criminal inquiry.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse has said he is ‘sincerely sorry’ for any distress that has been caused[/caption]
Met Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said the force was ‘deeply, deeply sorry’[/caption]
Tom Watson pushed the police to pursue a rape claim against former Tory minister Lord Brittan[/caption]
Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was among the 12 accused of sex abuse by Carl Beech[/caption]
Innocent ex-M16 boss Maurice Oldfield died aged 65 in 1981[/caption]
Field Marshal, Lord Bramall, now 95 was also subject to baseless claims[/caption]
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