Cressida Dick 'could STEP DOWN' over Operation Midland probe
Cressida Dick ‘could STEP DOWN as Met Police chief within a year’ amid outrage at Scotland Yard’s handling of Operation Midland probe
- Application to search widow of Leon Brittan’s homes rested on police claims
- Detectives used the infamous words ‘credible’ and ‘true’ to persuade judge
- Cressida Dick has insisted one of her officers ‘mistakenly’ used the phrase
- Commissioner is predicted to leave when contracts is up in 2022, source claims
- But document shows the words were in search warrant application
Dame Cressida Dick will ‘go gracefully’ in 2022 as the Met continues to be hammered over its handling of the botched VIP paedophile scandal, it was claimed today.
The Met Commissioner is in the firing line after Lord Brittan’s widow said Scotland Yard lacked a ‘strong moral compass’ and had a culture of ‘cover up and flick away’.
Diana Brittan has not pointed the finger directly at Dame Cressida, Britain’s most senior officer, but said the ‘buck stops’ with the force’s leadership as they blindly followed the false claims made by fantasist Carl Beech – better known as ‘Nick’ – to pursue her husband as he was battling cancer.
Dame Cressida’s five-year contract ends in 2022 – and she would need to ask for an extension to stay on – but she is ‘willing to step down gracefully’, a source told the Daily Telegraph.
Her predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe presided over the Operation Midland scandal and had his request for a contract extension rejected in the aftermath.
Scotland Yard declined to comment on the current Commissioner’s contract and whether she’ll go next year.
Met Chief Dame Cressida Dick is predicted to leave in 2022 as more revelations about the VIP paedophile inquiry run by her force emerged
Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald used the phrase ‘credible and true’ at a press conference in December 2014
Detectives used the infamous words ‘credible’ and ‘true’ to persuade a judge to let them raid Lady Brittan’s homes, the Daily Mail reveals today.
Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick has insisted that a senior officer ‘mistakenly’ used the phrase to describe sex abuse liar ‘Nick’.
But the Mail has obtained a copy of the application used to justify the raids – and police used the same words to describe the twisted fantasist, who is now serving 18 years in jail.
The document states that police believed Nick, real name Carl Beech, was ‘credible’ and ‘telling the truth’.
It led to Lady Brittan’s homes in London and North Yorkshire being searched by police six weeks after the death of her husband Leon, the former home secretary.
Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald used the phrase ‘credible and true’ at a press conference in December 2014.
At the time Dame Cressida was an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police with oversight of the shambolic VIP abuse inquiry, Operation Midland.
The phrase was criticised for destroying the presumption of innocence and supporting Beech’s wild accusations of murder and child sex abuse against Lord Brittan and other high-profile figures. But Dame Cressida has insisted it was said mistakenly.
Today’s revelation leaves the Met chief under pressure to explain the wording of the search warrant and deepens the controversy around Scotland Yard’s entire handling of Operation Midland.
It follows Lady Brittan’s searing interview in yesterday’s Daily Mail in which she attacked a ‘culture of cover-up’ at the Met. In other developments:
- The Prime Minister’s spokesman yesterday called the Operation Midland fiasco ‘deeply disturbing’;
- Tory MPs, peers and victims of Beech demanded an independent inquiry;
- Pop stars said former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson’s role at UK Music was now ‘untenable’ because of his support for Beech’s preposterous lies;
- Senior Operation Midland officers were allowed to retire on gold-plated pensions without punishment;
- Its boss Steve Rodhouse failed to win declarations of support from colleagues at the National Crime Agency;
- Dame Cressida may step down when her contract expires in April next year instead of seeking an extension.
Last night the son of former Armed Forces chief and D-Day hero Field Marshal Lord Bramall – also falsely accused of sex abuse by Beech – backed Lady Brittan.
Nick Bramall said: ‘There should be a public inquiry into Operation Midland. The officers were seduced by the idea of getting people in high places. They didn’t investigate properly and consequently these people got tossed to the wolves.’
Lady Brittan has accused the leaders of Britain’s biggest police force of lacking a ‘moral spine’ and expressed her frustration that no officers involved in the shambolic VIP abuse inquiry had been held to account over the multi-million pound fiasco.
The Mail has now obtained a copy of the search warrant application used to justify the raids on the houses of Lord Brittan’s widow (pictured) – in which police used the same words to describe the fantasist’s credibility
A search warrant application, revealed for the first time today, reveals the decision to raid her homes had been ‘considered at DAC [deputy assistant commissioner] level’, a reference to the gold commander of the bungled inquiry, Mr Rodhouse.
By the time the raids took place, Dame Cressida had left the Metropolitan Police to take up a job at the Foreign Office.
In 2019, she told LBC radio that she knew straight away that Det Supt McDonald blundered by calling Beech a ‘credible and true’ witness at the press conference.
She said she realised the senior detective had made ‘a mistake’ and she ‘felt for him’.
Yesterday leading politicians called for a fresh review of the disastrous Operation Midland investigation.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the case raised ‘serious issues’ as to the conduct of the Met.
An earlier report by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques was scathing about Scotland Yard’s handling of the case but none of the officers he criticised faced any sanction.
Lady Brittan’s late husband was among a number of notable figures falsely accused of child sexual abuse and murder by paedophile Carl Beech (pictured)
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘It is appalling that after all this time and after the desperate circus unfairly put on Lord Brittan that nothing has happened to anybody. We need a proper and full inquiry into what happened.
‘The original report was damning. Why has nothing been done since then?
‘The answer is to go back to the original inquiry and hold a full new one into what went wrong.’
Norman Lamont, a former chancellor and friend of Lord Brittan, said: ‘Lady Brittan has been treated appallingly.
The timing is extraordinary that after the strong criticism by Sir Richard Henriques of the Metropolitan Police Service that people have not been disciplined in connection with Operation Midland.
‘It was always to me astonishing that people believed these incredible rumours which have destroyed people’s lives.
‘There is certainly a case for another inquiry. It’s extraordinary that no police officers have been disciplined.’
Scotland Yard yesterday declined to answer questions about Dame Cressida’s previous defence of the ‘credible and true’ press conference.
Last year she was cleared of any wrongdoing over her role in the disastrous VIP paedophile ring investigation.
Beech was jailed for 18 years after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice, fraud and child sex offences.
Warrant of untruth: Application to raid Lord Brittan’s homes shows devastating falsehoods from police… leaving his widow ‘speechless’ with shock
By Stephen Wright for the Daily Mail
Lord Brittan’s widow was left ‘speechless’ on seeing the secret court document that persuaded a judge to grant search warrants for her two homes.
She expressed her astonishment at the information provided by police to justify the raids and at the fact no officers faced misconduct charges.
The document, which the Mail can reveal today, shows that the decision to seek a warrant had been ‘considered at DAC [deputy assistant commissioner] level’.
This is a reference to Steve Rodhouse, ‘gold commander’ of the bungled VIP sex abuse inquiry into high-profile figures, including Lady Brittan’s husband, the former home secretary.
Lord Brittan’s widow was left ‘speechless’ on seeing the secret court document that persuaded a judge to grant search warrants for her two homes
The application makes clear that police sought the warrants because they believed she would not allow them entry when they arrived at her homes in London and North Yorkshire in March 2015.
In yesterday’s Mail, Lady Brittan said the raids were a ‘violation’ that left her feeling like a criminal.
Authorised by Detective Inspector Alison Hepworth, the warrant states: ‘Given the status of the individuals involved in these applications, it is not felt that the occupants would allow search of their premises on a voluntary basis.
‘Given the nature of the material sought, any delay or pre-warning of an intention to search would allow the removal or destruction of such material with minimal effort.’
Critically the document includes the wholly incorrect claim that ‘Nick’, the fantasist Carl Beech, was ‘credible’ and ‘telling the truth’.
It states: ‘The victim in this matter has been interviewed at length by experienced officers from the child abuse investigation team.
His account has remained consistent and he is felt to be a credible witness who is telling the truth.’
That sentence helped persuade District Judge Howard Riddle to grant the warrants at the centre of the Operation Midland scandal.
The Daily Mail has now obtained a copy of the search warrant application used to justify the raids on Lady Brittan’s homes
Lady Brittan, 80, a former long-serving magistrate, said: ‘This is the most extraordinary search warrant I have ever seen. The information that might support the application is not there.
‘Judge Riddle presumably believed the fact that the application had been signed off at a very senior level.
‘And he would have taken, I suppose, some comfort in that. And he had no reason, I suppose at the time, to believe that he was not being told the entire story.’
The secret court document obtained by the Mail was part of a two-stage process that gave police permission to raid the homes of Lady Brittan, six weeks after her husband died.
Pictures of police vehicles during two-day search at Lord Brittan’s North Yorkshire home in March 2015
The first involved a detective completing a confidential form and the second involved three murder squad officers going before court to get official permission to storm her houses.
The document also shows that when asked if there was anything that might undermine their request, the Metropolitan Police simply answered ‘N/A’ – not applicable.
In fact, police were aware of several factors that raised questions about the claims made by Beech.
In an article for the Mail in July 2019, former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who wrote a scathing report about Operation Midland, insisted Beech had ‘not been consistent’, dating back to when the liar had first made claims of child sex abuse.
Sir Richard said: ‘His allegations made to the Wiltshire Police in 2012 were fundamentally inconsistent with those made to the Metropolitan Police in 2014 and with Beech’s blogs also published in 2014.
‘The identities of subsequent named alleged rapists were inconsistent. The alleged locations were inconsistent, persons allegedly present were inconsistent, the alleged accompanying acts of violence were inconsistent.’
Judge Riddle, now retired, has said he was misled over warrants for raids on the homes of Lady Brittan, former Armed Forces chief Lord Bramall and Tory ex-MP Harvey Proctor.
Officers’ rewards for failure: Operation Midland saw lives ruined, homes ransacked and reputations trashed on the bogus testimony of a fantasist… but five years after the probe was shut down not one officer involved has received an official sanction
By Glen Keogh and Stephen Wright for the Daily Mail
It is widely regarded as one of the worst police investigations in living memory.
Operation Midland saw lives ruined, homes ransacked and reputations trashed on the bogus testimony of a fantasist who was not properly challenged until it was too late.
In a post-Jimmy Savile culture of automatically ‘believing’ victims, police officers and politicians saw the ‘Nick’ case as a career-defining coup, seemingly rendering them blind to inconsistencies in Carl Beech’s accounts.
He is now serving an 18-year prison sentence for his lies.
But what of those who helped the lies take root, and initially failed to conduct the most basic inquiries to determine their veracity?
The answer is that five years after Midland was shut down not one officer involved in the scandal has received an official sanction or punishment.
As head of Scotland Yard during Operation Midland, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe regularly defended the probe
LORD HOGAN-HOWE: ENOBLED
As head of Scotland Yard during Operation Midland, Hogan-Howe regularly defended the probe, refusing to apologise for home raids in 2016.
He commissioned Sir Richard Henriques’ review of the scandal but announced his retirement that September, weeks before the judge’s scathing findings were made public.
He was elevated to the House of Lords where the register of interests reveals 14 paid posts including advising a legal firm and the Cabinet Office.
Accrued an estimated £5million pension pot and owns an apartment in the Swiss ski resort of Valais.
STEVE RODHOUSE: PROMOTED
‘Gold commander’ and in overall charge of Operation Midland, then-deputy assistant commissioner Rodhouse approved decision to seek search warrants to raid homes and briefed superiors.
Accused of prolonging Operation Vincente probe into Lord Brittan to keep Midland going.
Cleared by police watchdog and now at the National Crime Agency on a pay package of nearly £300,000.
‘Gold commander’ and in overall charge of Operation Midland, then-deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse approved the decision to seek search warrants to raid homes and briefed superiors
DIANE TUDWAY: RETIRED
As senior investigating officer in charge of Operation Midland, the detective chief inspector reviewed and accepted the search warrants despite being aware of discrepancies in Nick’s account between his Met and Wiltshire Police interviews.
Made a superintendent in 2018 while under investigation by the police watchdog and the only officer to have a face-to-face interview. Retired on a full pension in 2019 on eve of Nick trial.
As senior investigating officer in charge of Operation Midland, Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tudway reviewed and accepted the search warrants despite being aware of discrepancies in Nick’s account between his Met and Wiltshire Police interviews
KENNY MCDONALD: RETIRED
In day-to-day charge of Operation Midland when it was launched, the former detective superintendent infamously told reporters in December 2014 that he, and senior officers specialising in both child abuse and murder, believed Nick’s allegations to be ‘credible and true’.
Replaced as head of Midland in October 2015 but was cleared by the watchdog of any wrongdoing.
Mr McDonald retired on a full pension in 2019 after 30 years of service. Made no comment yesterday.
In day-to-day charge of Operation Midland when it was launched, former Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald infamously told reporters in December 2014 that he, and senior officers specialising in both child abuse and murder, believed Nick’s allegations to be ‘credible and true’
PATRICIA GALLAN: RETIRED
As a Met assistant commissioner at the time of Operation Midland, Miss Gallan received briefings from Mr Rodhouse.
However she has appeared to blame him for blunders, saying he had ‘operational control’.
Formerly the highest-ranking black female in British policing, she said she did not approve raids on the homes of Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall or Harvey Proctor.
She was cleared in a judge-led inquiry and retired in 2018. She is now a non-executive director at HMRC.
As a Met assistant commissioner at the time of Operation Midland, Patricia Gallan received briefings from Mr Rodhouse
DAME CRESSIDA DICK
Had oversight of Operation Midland when it was set up, as well as Operation Vincente, a probe into a bogus rape claim against Lord Brittan.
Left the Met for a job at the Foreign Office but returned as £230,000-a-year commissioner in 2017.
Dame Cressida Dick had oversight of Operation Midland when it was set up
ALISON HEPWORTH: RETIRED
The detective inspector authorised the applications used to raid homes before they were submitted to the court.
Told investigators that despite her ‘extensive’ knowledge of Operation Midland, she could not recall what she knew about inconsistencies in Nick’s claims at the time, and insisted the decision to apply for warrants was made ‘at a higher level’.
Had already retired on a full pension before the IOPC inquiry started. Provided a written statement to watchdog.
Detective Inspector Alison Hepworth authorised the applications used to raid homes before they were submitted to the court
ERIC SWORD: RETIRED
A detective sergeant working on Operation Midland, Mr Sword made the applications for search warrants used to raid homes and attended Westminster Magistrates’ Court to answer questions when they were granted.
He indicated he had no information that might undermine the application.
He admitted he had been provided with a summary of Nick’s interviews with Wiltshire Police, which could have highlighted discrepancies, but said he did not read it.
A detective sergeant working on Operation Midland, Eric Sword made the applications for search warrants used to raid homes and attended Westminster Magistrates’ Court to answer questions when they were granted
James Townly played a key role in allegations made against Lord Brittan, interviewing the terminally-ill peer under caution in May 2014 as part of Operation Vincente
JAMES TOWNLY: STILL SERVING
The detective sergeant played a key role in allegations made against Lord Brittan, interviewing the terminally-ill peer under caution in May 2014 as part of Operation Vincente.
Months later he became the first Scotland Yard officer to interview ‘Nick’, where he was taken in by the fantasist’s preposterous claims.
DS Townly became Nick’s liaison officer and took him on drives through central London to see whether he ‘recognised’ anything, insisting the star witness was the ‘real deal’.
Avoided a misconduct probe. Still serving.
WATCHDOG THAT DIDN’T BARK
A former council leader and accountant, he became the first director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in 2017.
The £185,000-a-year executive ultimately presided over the ‘whitewash’ report exonerating all five Operation Midland police officers referred over alleged misconduct.
He defended the report in a Guardian newspaper article, maintaining ‘shortcomings’ were found, but no misconduct.
A former council leader and accountant, Michael Lockwood became the first director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in 2017
He was accused of cronyism in 2019 when it emerged he hired his former Harrow council colleague as his taxpayer-funded £140,000-a-year deputy.
The IOPC said that Mr Lockwood ‘declared that he knew the candidate, in accordance with policy’.
Mr Lockwood declined to comment on Lady Brittan’s interview yesterday.
Kimberley Williams was appointed lead investigator of the IPOC probe into Operation Midland
Appointed ‘lead investigator’ of the IOPC probe into Operation Midland just a few years after leaving university.
In her 20s at the time, Miss Williams admitted when taking statements that she had no legal training and was not fully aware of the process for obtaining search warrants.
She is thought still to be in IOPC employment.
Pressure grows for Tom Watson to lose his high-ranking music job as fallout from false ‘VIP paedophile ring’ claim rages on
By Paul Revoir, Glen Keogh and Claire Ellicott for the Daily Mail
Leading musicians last night called for Tom Watson to step aside from his role as chairman of UK Music over his involvement in the VIP paedophile inquiry.
Concerns over the former Labour deputy leader’s position grew yesterday after Lord Brittan’s widow spoke out about the devastating impact of his involvement in false claims made against her late husband.
Lady Brittan said Mr Watson had carried out ‘the most despicable thing I think a human being could do to another’ by joining the accusers.
One singer questioned how the former MP could have any ‘credibility’ in his role at the industry group given his ‘disgraceful and overly eager support’ of sick fantasist Carl Beech.
Carol Decker, of 80s chart-toppers T’Pau, said she and fellow musicians had questioned Mr Watson’s suitability even without the Beech scandal.
Leading musicians last night called for Tom Watson to step aside from his role as chairman of UK Music over his involvement in the VIP paedophile inquiry
‘It stinks like a rotting fish,’ she added.
‘And after his disgraceful and overly eager support for the totally discredited Carl Beech how can he have any credibility in the position and do any good whatsoever for the membership?
‘Who would want to deal with him? His position as chair makes no sense on any level morally or actually.’
Mike Batt, who was behind The Wombles pop group and wrote the number one Bright Eyes, said it was a mistake for UK Music to ‘even to entertain him as a candidate’.
He added: ‘It was a risk too far to bring him into this position and I do hope that UK Music sees sense and takes this opportunity and this moment to ask Mr Watson to step down or that Mr Watson might even have the decency to resign.’
Mitch Murray, whose songs include How Do You Do It? for Gerry and the Pacemakers, said he considered Mr Watson ‘unsuitable’ to chair the music body.
The criticism comes amid broader concerns over the way the job was awarded to Mr Watson, the former shadow culture secretary, last year.
It has been suggested that Mr Watson’s support for Beech, who was jailed for his lies as well as for child sex offences, helped create an environment in which figures such as Radio 2 host Paul Gambacinni and Cliff Richard were falsely accused.
Daniel Janner QC founded FAIR, Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform, after his late father Lord Janner was wrongly accused by Beech.
He said the pressure group’s key supporters, including Sir Cliff, ‘can’t comprehend that Tom Watson remains in his role at UK Music’.
‘He is representing people who have been severely wronged,’ he said. ‘His position has become untenable in that organisation.’
Lady Brittan yesterday used an interview with the Daily Mail to accuse Mr Watson of being ‘despicable’ and ‘a coward’ for making false sex abuse allegations against her husband in a newspaper column just three days after he died.
A UK Music spokesman said: ‘Tom Watson is focused on getting the music industry back on its feet and fighting for greater support for the thousands of musicians, creators and many others who have been unable to work for a year due to the devastating impact of Covid-19.’
Source: Read Full Article