Operation Midland, conducted by the Met in 2015-16 into allegations of child sex abuse, was one of the greatest disasters in police history. It relied on a pack of lies told by a fantasist, known as Nick, who is now behind bars for 18 years. This police fiasco will be remain in the public memory for the shameful way in which a number of distinguished public figures, including Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Leon Brittan, were treated.
An independent inquiry by a retired High Court judge, Sir Richard Henriques, identified 43 major blunders by Met officers. They included misleading a judge to obtain search warrants. Sir Richard said that five officers should be investigated for misconduct. A perfunctory review by the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which did not even bother with interviews, let them all off. Sir Richard described the IOPC as “lamentable.”
Alistair Lexden has called on the Home Office several times since 2016 to take action in order to restore confidence in the upper echelons of the Met. But nothing has been done. On 10 February, this failure became the more glaring when the Daily Mail published an interview with Leon Brittan’s widow, Diana, who, like her husband, was treated shamefully by the police. She said in the course of the interview: “Not a single person in this case has resigned, lost their job, been fired, demoted or disciplined.”
Drawing on the interview, Alistair Lexden took up the issue again in the Lords on 11 February. He asked: “Who could fail to be moved by the following dignified yet devastating words: ‘I’ve always believed that a strong moral compass is essential to every public body and especially to police forces, and above all, to its leadership. However, it just seems to me the Metropolitan Police has preferred its corporate or personal ambitions to a strong moral compass.’ Those are the words of Lady Brittan who, with the husband to whom she was devoted, our former colleague and a former Home Secretary, Lord Brittan, suffered grievously at the hands of policemen who failed to adhere to the law they had sworn to uphold. The House will not have forgotten other distinguished public figures who had their reputations traduced.
Almost exactly a year ago I asked in this House: “Is it not shocking that not a single police officer has been called to account for the catalogue of errors laid bare in Sir Richard Henriques’s report on Operation Midland, while some of those involved have been promoted to high rank?” I got no answer. I therefore ask the Government that question again today. Do they not understand that it is their duty to act, and act now?”
Answer came there none—once again. The matter cannot rest there. Further pressure will be brought to bear on this Government to try and get it to see the error of its ways.