Lord Blunkett: Operation Midland undermined public confidence in the police

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on March 11th 2021, 11:03am

Leaders Council chairman Lord Blunkett is one of six former home secretaries who have jointly written and signed a letter in The Times warning that confidence in the police has been seriously undermined by Operation Midland and calling for an independent inquiry into the matter.

Operation Midland was a disastrous Metropolitan Police investigation into false allegations of an establishment paedophile ring following claims made by Carl Beech, who was imprisoned for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the court of justice, fraud and child sexual offences.

Beech's claims involved defamatory accusations of sexual abuse and child murder carried out by groups of MPs, generals and senior figures in the intelligence services in the 1970s and 1980s.

Police officers searched the homes of former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, former chief of defence staff Lord Bramall, and former home secretary Lord Brittan's widow, Lady Diana Brittan, as part of the resulting operation.

Lord Blunkett and the other signatories of the letter, including Lord Baker of Dorking, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, Lord Howard of Lympne, Jack Straw and Lord Reid of Cardowan, say that as former home secretaries they are “acutely conscious of the need to maintain public confidence in the police” and call upon incumbent home secretary Priti Patel to launch an independent inquiry into Operation Midland after former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques concluded that public confidence in the police had been eroded in its aftermath.

The letter reads: “Sir Richard Henriques, the distinguished former High Court judge who was asked to conduct an independent review of Operation Midland, made 25 recommendations. Last month he said that not one of them had been accepted or rejected by the Metropolitan Police and he had concluded that public confidence in the police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct had been seriously damaged. He has asked the home secretary to arrange for an independent police force be asked to investigate not only the conduct of the Metropolitan Police officers involved but also those in the police watchdog whose duty it was to investigate.

“Sir Richard’s request has been endorsed by the former chief magistrate who issued the search warrants relating to the homes of Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan of Spennithorne and Harvey Proctor. He has concurred with Sir Richard’s findings that the information given to him on oath in support of the applications was false and misleading — conduct, he says, that appears to amount to perverting the course of justice.

“We concur with Sir Richard’s view that confidence in the police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct has been seriously damaged and endorse his call and that of the former chief magistrate for an independent investigation. We urge the home secretary to establish it.”

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
March 11th 2021, 11:03am

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