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Leon Brittan's brother accuses police of 'outrageous' treatment of former Home Secretary, in ITV News interview

The brother of Leon Brittan has accused police of "outrageous treatment" of the former Home Secretary after it emerged they had failed to inform him he had been cleared of a rape allegation before he died.

In an interview with ITV News, Sir Samuel Brittan, a journalist, accused police of "gossiping with journalists" about his brother, who died in January this year not knowing that he had been exonerated of the false claim against a 19-year-old student in 1967.

The allegation had been dismissed in 2012 when it first came to the attention of police, but was subsequently reopened last summer when Lord Brittan was terminally ill with cancer.

Lord Brittan, pictured in 2013, died from cancer in January. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

"I am not an authority on this world at all, but I was brought up to believe the English police were very special and that they didn’t make allegations... until they thought they had a cast iron case in which they could take to court," Sir Samuel said.

To have them gossiping with journalists about somebody who might or might not have been guilty seems to me outrageous, but perhaps it’s a different country to the one I grew up in.

– Sir Samuel Brittan, Leon Brittan's brother

Sir Samuel Brittan claimed the allegations made against his brother were "either somebody fishing or mistaken identity", and said he would be "furious" if he were in Lady Brittan's position.

It was reported that Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse had since sent a letter to lawyers for the ex-MP's wife, apologising for failing to notify the family before his death.

The Sunday Times claimed Lady Brittan's lawyers had asked for "explanation and clarification" as to the delay, arguing that the police action added "greatly to his suffering".

When contacted by ITV News, the Met would not confirm any correspondence, citing it as a private matter.

Lord Brittan was Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and later worked in the European Commission. Credit: Reuters

Sir Samuel's comments came amid growing concern about the way the force has handled historical allegations of abuse by prominent figures.

In August, former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor criticised officers involved in Operation Midland - an investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring in Westminster which is accused of murdering three boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Proctor, who had been questioned twice in relation to the claims but never charged, maintained his innocence and described the investigation as a "homosexual witch hunt".

This week, a vulnerable man who accused Lord Brittan of sexual abuse claimed he may have been "confused" when naming the former peer.

The police condemned the reporting of the comments, claiming it could impact victims in a way "that may damage them or a criminal investigation".