A former senior Metropolitan Police officer has a case to answer for gross misconduct over the handling of false abuse claims made against a string of high-profile figures, said a police watchdog.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that two people, known only as witness A and B, who are accused of making false allegations, were not properly investigated. The claims were made as part of Operation Midland, launched off the back of lurid and false allegations made by fantasist Carl Beech – later jailed for 18 years for what a judge called his “cruel and callous” lies.
It is understood the officer in question is former deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse, who now has a senior role at the National Crime Agency. Mr Rodhouse was previously the most senior officer working on the Operation Midland case.
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The Metropolitan Police’s 16-month investigation into fake claims of a VIP paedophile ring saw raids on the homes of former home secretary Lord Brittan, as well as D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor. The probe ended in 2016 without a single arrest, after Beech made a series of baseless allegations, including of three murders.
The force was heavily criticised for believing Beech too readily despite inconsistencies in his evidence, including naming witnesses who did not exist. A 2016 review of Operation Midland, led by former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, found that offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice should be considered against Witnesses A and B and that any investigation should be carried out by another force.
He found that the pair had made false claims that appeared to back up Beech’s account.
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IOPC director Amanda Rowe said: “We decided the former senior officer may have breached police professional standards of behaviour relating to honesty and integrity regarding comments made to the media about Operation Midland in March 2016 and comments subsequently made to Sir Richard Henriques in August 2016.
“We also found that by failing to follow Sir Richard’s recommendation when it was made in 2016, and after it was again brought to the force’s attention following complaints in 2017 and 2020, the service provided by the Met was unacceptable and we have upheld these complaints.
“The force conducted several reviews which all concluded no investigation was needed. We found those reviews were flawed, did not consider all of the evidence and their rationales were not sound.
“We have also recommended the Met apologise to the individuals affected.”
The officer in question retired more than a year before the investigation began in March 2022, meaning the IOPC has to hold a consultation with the parties involved as to whether a disciplinary hearing can take place.
A spokesperson for the National Crime Agency said: “We are aware that the IOPC has decided that there is a case to answer for gross misconduct relating to a senior NCA officer, as a result of a complaint linked to the Metropolitan Police Operation Midland.
“The IOPC is obliged under relevant legislation to enter into a consultation period with concerned parties regarding a disciplinary hearing. We will engage with the IOPC fully on this matter.”
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