Lady Brit­tan blasts ‘fun­da­men­tally flawed’ po­lice watch­dog

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Martin Evans and Robert Men­dick

LADY BRIT­TAN, the widow of the for­mer home sec­re­tary, last night hit out at the po­lice watch­dog, ac­cus­ing it of al­low­ing Scot­land Yard to trash the rep­u­ta­tions of in­no­cent peo­ple with com­plete im­punity.

The 78-year-old was said to be deeply dis­tressed af­ter read­ing the find­ings of the In­de­pen­dent Of­fice for Po­lice Con­duct (IOPC), which ab­solved all the of­fi­cers in­volved in Scot­land Yard’s dis­as­trous Op­er­a­tion Midland of any wrong­do­ing. The force spent 16 months in­ves­ti­gat­ing fan­ta­sist Carl Beech’s false al­le­ga­tions of child abuse and mur­der against some of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent pub­lic fig­ures, in­clud­ing her hus­band Leon, Lord Bra­mall, the for­mer head of the Army, and Har­vey Proc­tor, the for­mer Tory MP.

Last night there were grow­ing calls for the de­tec­tives who ap­plied for con­tro­ver­sial search war­rants to be in­ves­ti­gated for per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice, af­ter two judges said they be­lieved they had acted “un­law­fully”.

Lady Brit­tan, whose homes in Lon­don and North York­shire were raided by po­lice weeks af­ter her hus­band lost his bat­tle with can­cer in 2015, said the fact that the IOPC found no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing against any of the of­fi­cers, showed the sys­tem was “fun­da­men­tally flawed”.

She has com­plained that Sir Richard Hen­riques’ damn­ing re­view of Op­er­a­tion Midland laid bare nu­mer­ous Met fail­ings and it was ex­tremely con­cern­ing that the IOPC chose to ig­nore them.

Her close friend told The Daily Tele­graph: “Read­ing the IOPC re­port has been an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult and dis­tress­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Lady Brit­tan. The fail­ings of the po­lice are clear for ev­ery­one to see in the re­port from Sir Richard ... and the ac­count of Howard Rid­dle, the for­mer dis­trict judge who says he was mis­led by po­lice dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Midland. Yet the IOPC has

found that no­body is to blame. Ei­ther the sys­tem is fun­da­men­tally flawed or we have reached a stage where in­no­cent peo­ple can be tra­duced and have their lives ruined by the Metropoli­tan Po­lice with com­plete im­punity.”

In his re­view, Sir Richard de­scribed how more than 20 of­fi­cers de­scended on Lady Brit­tan’s home while she was still griev­ing, and sub­jected her to a dis­tress­ing, hu­mil­i­at­ing or­deal that in­cluded root­ing through let­ters of con­do­lence she had re­ceived. De­tec­tives in­volved in the search of her North York­shire prop­erty were de­scribed as act­ing as if they were “look­ing for body parts” as they scoured the gar­den.

Sir Richard con­cluded the searches should never have taken place be­cause in ap­ply­ing for the war­rants the de­tec­tives had wrongly claimed Beech’s story was con­sis­tent through­out.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Rid­dle, the for­mer chief mag­is­trate, who is­sued the war­rants, said he com­pletely agreed with Sir Richard’s find­ings and ac­cepted that he had been “mis­led” by po­lice.

Mr Proc­tor, who lost his home and job as a re­sult of pub­lic­ity sur­round­ing the searches, said Mr Rid­dle’s com­ments rep­re­sented a “tip­ping point” in the scan­dal. In a let­ter to Priti Pa­tel, the Home Sec­re­tary, the for­mer MP de­manded that an out­side po­lice force be ap­pointed to carry out a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter.

He wrote: “Fail­ure to in­sti­tute such a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion will rightly be re­garded as a con­tin­u­a­tion of a coverup. It is al­ready be­lieved that the MPS and the IOPC are ‘hand in glove’ over Op­er­a­tion Midland. This po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be di­rected to ques­tion un­der cau­tion the for­mer MPS of­fi­cers – DAC Steve Rod­house, D Supt Kenny Mcdon­ald, DCI Di­ana Tud­way, DI Ali­son Hep­worth and DS Eric Sword – about the al­le­ga­tions.”

He sug­gested that Northum­bria Po­lice, which suc­cess­fully prose­cuted Beech for per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice and fraud, would be the ideal force to take on the role.

Lady Brit­tan ac­cused the watch­dog of al­low­ing the Met to ruin in­no­cent peo­ple’s rep­u­ta­tions with im­punity over Op­er­a­tion Midland, in which her late hus­band was falsely ac­cused

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