The police and political links in sex abuse probe of innocent VIPs

The nexus of Nick: Graphic reveals the extraordinary police, media and political links in catastrophic sex abuse probe into innocent VIPs – as failure to suspend head of bungled inquiry from £200k job sparks fury

  • Read more: Steve Rodhouse faces misconduct charge over allegations that he lied

A graphic today reveals the extraordinary list of police chiefs, journalists and political heavyweights who became caught up in a catastrophic child sex abuse probe into innocent VIPs. 

Operation Midland, launched in 2014, saw homes ransacked and reputations trashed on the bogus testimony of paedophile fantasist Carl Beech, who falsely claimed he was raped and abused by famous Westminster figures.  

But while he is now serving an 18-year sentence for his lies, almost every detective who believed and acted on his accounts – despite their apparent inconsistencies – has avoided being charged over their alleged failures. 

Former Met deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse, however, who led Operation Midland, will soon face gross misconduct proceedings over the bungled inquiry. 

But fury erupted yesterday when it emerged he would not be suspended from his current £200,000-a-year job as deputy head at the National Crime Agency (NCA). 

The nexus of Nick: Our graphic lays bare the extraordinary police, media and political links in the still unravelling story 

Victims of Steve Rodhouse’s bungled inquiry and former police chiefs have united to condemn the decision to keep him in position as head of operations at the National Crime Agency

Among those falsely accused by Beech – initially referred to as ‘Nick’ to protect his identity – were Normandy veteran Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who has since died aged 95, the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.

Those he named as supposed ‘abusers’ also included former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, late Labour MP Greville Janner, disgraced TV star Jimmy Savile, and security chiefs Sir Michael Hanley and Sir Maurice Oldfield, who were the heads of MI5 and MI6 respectively.

Beech also met with two top BBC journalists before the broadcaster ran his story as headline news, while former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson publicly supported Beech, including by making baseless claims about a VIP sex abuse ring in the House of Commons. 

Operation Midland was launched in 2014, a year after Sir Keir Starmer, as Director of Public Prosecutions, authorised policy changes for dealing with sexual abuse cases which placed more emphasis on believing those making complaints.

The changes were designed to avoid missed opportunities to prosecute sex offenders in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. 

As police investigated innocent Westminster grandees based on ‘Nick’s’ bogus testimony, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald infamously described their star witness’ outlandish claims as ‘credible and true.’

‘Nick’ was later unmasked as paedophile Carl Beech and jailed for 18 years in 2019.

It comes as victims of Midland and former police chiefs have united to condemn the decision to keep Rodhouse in position as head of operations at the NCA – dubbed Britain’s FBI – where he is at the forefront of the fight against international organised crime.

Their comments this week have piled pressure on the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.

The agency is answerable to her and she has regular dealings with NCA director-general Graeme Biggar, Mr Rodhouse’s immediate boss. Insiders told the Mail Mr Rodhouse had been moved to a ‘back office’ role at the NCA.

Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, Lord Bramall, and late ex-home secretary Lord Brittan (left to right) who had their homes raided during Operation Midland

Former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse should face a disciplinary board over allegations he lied in public at the conclusion of Operation Midland, the police watchdog has ruled

In the past, the Met has repeatedly defended the conduct of Mr Rodhouse

The head of Scotland Yard’s catastrophic VIP sex abuse investigation is to face gross misconduct proceedings

The suspension row erupted after the Mail revealed that Mr Rodhouse is to face gross misconduct proceedings following a damning investigation by this newspaper last year.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has ruled that he should face a disciplinary board over allegations he lied in public at the conclusion of Midland.

The dramatic development, following the Mail’s eight-year campaign for justice and accountability, marks yet another low point at the scandal-ridden Met.

Mr Rodhouse is the first officer to face disciplinary proceedings over Midland, widely regarded as the worst Scotland Yard investigation in modern times.

Former detective chief inspector Paul Settle, who blew the whistle on Mr Rodhouse’s disastrous pursuit of innocent VIPs, accused law enforcement chiefs of ‘double standards’. 

‘If he was a junior officer charged with gross misconduct, he would be removed from operational duties or suspended immediately,’ said Mr Settle.

Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who was falsely accused of child murder and sex abuse by serial liar Carl ‘Nick’ Beech, claimed an old boy network in the police establishment might be ‘protecting’ Mr Rodhouse.

‘He should be suspended if not sacked,’ added Mr Proctor, who received a £900,000 payout from the Met over his Midland ordeal.

The decision to charge Mr Rodhouse with gross misconduct comes six months after he was served with a formal notice alleging he used ‘inaccurate or dishonest’ words (pictured in 2019)

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said, ‘I am deeply sorry for the mistakes that were made’ during the force’s investigations into false claims of sexual abuse in 2019

A godson of former prime minister Edward Heath, who was falsely accused by paedophile Beech, also demanded Mr Rodhouse’s suspension. 

Lincoln Seligman said: ‘After far too long this is the first senior police officer to be held to account for their actions in Operation Midland and Conifer (a linked inquiry by Wiltshire Police into bogus sex claims against Sir Edward). 

‘Too many other officers have also walked away from the mess and gone on to highly paid jobs. Maybe their days are numbered.’

The decision to charge Mr Rodhouse with gross misconduct comes six months after he was served with a formal notice alleging he used ‘inaccurate or dishonest’ words at the end of Midland.

During his chequered career, he has led shambolic probes into a false rape allegation made by a mentally ill Labour activist against Lord Brittan and true claims of sexual abuse made against Jimmy Savile while he was alive.

Despite this, Mr Rodhouse was promoted in 2018 to be director general (operations) of the NCA under Dame Lynne Owens, his old boss from the Met.

It has also emerged that he ‘exploited a loophole’ to dodge an interview with investigators.

As he was no longer a serving policeman, he could not be forced to attend in person and gave a written statement instead.

An NCA spokesman said: ‘We are aware that the IOPC has decided that there is case to answer for gross misconduct relating to a senior NCA officer, as a result of a complaint linked to the Metropolitan Police’s 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.’

The agency added that ‘the officer will not be suspended at this stage’. However insiders last night said Mr Rodhouse had been moved to a ‘back office’ role.

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