- Video report by ITV News correspondent Neil Connery
Police officers involved in the investigation of Carl Beech, who lied about the existence of a murderous VIP paedophile ring, should be investigated, a former High Court judge has said.
Sir Richard Henriques, who in 2016 ran a review of the investigation, also said he believes warrants to search the properties of high-profile figures were “obtained unlawfully”.
Three years ago, his review found more than 40 areas of concern stemming from the actions of investigating officers involved in Operation Midland.
The allegations of Beech, formerly known as “Nick”, to Wiltshire Police in 2012 were “inconsistent” with those made to the Metropolitan Police in 2014 and with blogs published by Beech in 2014, Sir Richard said in a comment piece published in the Daily Mail.
“Thus the course of justice was perverted with shocking consequences.
"A criminal investigation should surely follow.”
Beech, 51, was last week given an 18-year prison sentence for 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
However, in a statement, the Metropolitan Police said potential conduct matters relating to five officers had been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for its assessment.
Three officers’ conduct was investigated by the IOPC, which found no evidence that any of the officers deliberately withheld evidence from the warrant applications with the intention of misleading the district judge and would have no case to answer for misconduct.
The Met said it was reviewing Sir Richard’s report to ascertain whether more of it could be published.
It added: "However, the MPS has to strike a balance between its commitment to transparency and its legal and moral duties to protect the confidentiality of complainants, witnesses and those accused."
Beech told the Metropolitan Police repeated lies, making hours worth of tearful interviews in which he said he had been sadistically abused by famous faces from the worlds of politics, the armed forces and security services.
His allegations, which included claims he had been taken out of lessons during the 1970s and 1980s to be abused and that he had witnessed three children murdered at the hands of the invented VIP ring, prompted the force to launch the £2 million Operation Midland inquiry, which ran from 2014 to 2016 and eventually closed without a single arrest being made.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Sir Richard said he maintained the opinion expressed in his review, of which only some sections have been made public, saying that the warrants authorising the searches of the homes of Lord Edwin Bramall, Lady Diana Brittan and Harvey Proctor “were obtained unlawfully”.
Sir Richard wrote that three applications for search warrants stated Beech’s allegations had been consistent, but he had not found that to be the case.
He added: “I remain unable to conclude that every officer acted with due diligence and in good faith.
“I concluded in 2016 – and I remain of the view – that the officers responsible for the three applications did not in fact fully believe that there were reasonable grounds to believe Beech’s allegations.”
Former Tory MP Mr Proctor has since described the investigation as a “truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing”.
He said he was “pleased” with Sir Richard’s comments and also believes there should be a criminal investigation into Operation Midland.
He said the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary should set up an independent investigation.
Mr Proctor said: “As far as a criminal case is concerned, I believe that an outside police force should look at this and, because of the thorough and forensic way they conducted their investigation into Carl Beech, that consideration should be given to going to Northumbria Police to investigate.
“I take no satisfaction to having my view that the Metropolitan Police force were wrong in the way that they investigated 'Nick’.
“Northumbria Police have restored my faith in British policing, which was lost entirely by the Metropolitan Police.
"They went on far too long.
"They should never have started their investigation Operation Midland before investigating their complainant, who was making incredible claims and causing a lot of damage.”
In a victim impact statement that was read at Beech’s trial, Mr Proctor spoke of the reputational damage he had suffered after his home was raided.
The former Basildon and Billericay MP said he had been spat at by the public, branded a paedophile and a murderer, and that Beech’s allegations “would cause ordinary people to revile and despise me”.
He had previously explained how the former nurse’s lies led to him stepping down from his role as private secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.
Following Beech's two-month trial at Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Justice James Goss said of the police: “No doubt you were encouraged by their apparent willingness at that time to accept the truthfulness of your account.”
The judge said that, as a result of Beech’s allegations, a “dark cloud of suspicion” had hung over those he falsely accused, as well as their families.
Last week, the Independent Office for Police Conduct said no officers would face misconduct charges over the case.