- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green
A fantasist whose repeated lies about a VIP paedophile ring tarnished the reputations of the high-profile men he falsely accused has been jailed for 18 years.
The Metropolitan Police spent £2 million looking into Carl Beech's allegations - made over the course of hours' worth of tearful interviews - that he had been sadistically raped and abused by famous Westminster figures in the 1970s and 1980s.
In sentencing, Beech was described by Mr Justice James Goss as "an intelligent, resourceful, manipulative and devious person".
The judge added: "You accused living persons of the highest integrity and decency of vile acts."
Among those accused by the 51-year-old former nurse were 91-year-old Normandy veteran Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
All three had their homes raided in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland investigation.
The force has come under widespread criticism for the investigation, which closed in 2016 without making a single arrest and was described by Mr Proctor as a "truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing".
Among Beech's allegations were claims his step-father, an Army major, raped him and passed him on to generals to be tortured and sadistically abused at military bases by other establishment figures.
Those he named as supposed "abusers" included former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, late Labour MP Greville Janner, disgraced TV star Jimmy Savile, and security chiefs Sir Michael Hanley and Sir Maurice Oldfield, who were the heads of MI5 and MI6 respectively.
Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court saw through the lies of the school governor and NSPCC volunteer, and found him guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
Speaking during his sentencing hearing, prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said: “In this case, the defendant’s conduct amounted to the cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system on an unprecedented scale.”
He said that the offences demonstrated an “unparalleled cruelty and disregard” towards those who he wrongly accused.
Mr Badenoch added: “These offences were motivated by entirely selfish purposes.”
During a victim impact statement that he read at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday, Mr Proctor said he has only a "feeling of icy contempt" for the man who wrongly accused him of being a murderer and paedophile.
Speaking prior to Beech being sentenced, he said: "His allegations, following the Metropolitan Police Service involvement, were the worst that can be made - that I was a serial child sexual murderer, torturer and abuser.
"I find it extraordinary that an institution which formerly I held in high regard, the Metropolitan Police Service, allowed itself to lend weight to such false and incredible allegations.
"For Mr Carl Beech I have a feeling of icy contempt."
Mr Proctor said that, as a result of Beech's allegations, he was spat at by members of the public and wrongly called a paedophile.
Speaking about the claims, the former MP for Basildon and Billericay said: "He (Beech) knew that they would cause ordinary people to revile and despise me."
In another victim impact statement, read during the sentencing on Friday, Diana Brittan said her husband had to deal with terminal illness while facing "a series of false allegations and smears of the very worst kind".
Mr Badenoch QC read the widow's victim impact statement.
It read: "I feel he was caught up in a totally unjustified witchhunt which took its toll on both him and me.
"He was denied the dignified death that he deserved.
"His name has now been cleared but he will never know this."
Meanwhile, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a D-Day veteran, said: "I was never as badly wounded in all my time in the military as I was by the allegations made by 'Nick'."
The statement was written months prior to the start of the trial as the 95-year-old, who was 91 at the time when Beech made allegations against him, feared he would not live to see the proceedings.
It was read in court by his solicitor Drew Pettifer, and described the horror of having his home searched by officers as his seriously-ill wife lay in bed, as well as the pain of seeing her die without his name being cleared.
Another to be falsely accused was former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, and a statement from his godson, Lincoln Seligman, was also read in court.
It said that the late Conservative MP "was always as he remains wholly and categorically innocent of these depraved and wicked accusations".
He said the "plainly ridiculous" allegations against his godfather "cast a dreadful stain on this country".
Mr Seligman also condemned the Metropolitan Police and politicians who "should be ashamed of themselves" for giving credence to Beech's accusations.
He said: "It is unlikely this damage will ever be undone."
On Monday, Beech was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
Prosecutor Mr Badenoch said that it was clear that Beech was aware that his accusations were of the “most serious nature” and that the stories he invented to detectives would be-front page news.
He said: “He also sought to inject himself into and thereby pervert the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.”
Beech had given “entirely false hope” to the family of Martin Allen, who vanished in 1979, by speculating he may have been one of the boys to be abused by the invented paedophile ring, Mr Badenoch added.
Mr Badenoch said during the two-month trial that the divorced father-of-one had shown “breathtaking hypocrisy” in accusing others of child sex abuse while he was pursuing an interest in boys himself.
On Friday, he said: “The evidence shows the defendant derived sexual pleasure from graphically describing the violent sexual abuse of young boys.
“He enjoyed the attention and celebrity.”
Among Beech’s allegations were claims that his step father, an Army major, raped him and passed him on to generals to be tortured and sadistically abused at military bases by other establishment figures.
Beech said that he had been taken out of school frequently for the abuse to occur, and that he had seen three separate child murders committed by the men he called “The Group”, but jurors saw through his lies.