A £2 million investigation into allegations of abuse and murder by a Westminster paedophile ring is set to be wound up next week, after no evidence was found to support the claims. The Metropolitan Police force will now have to answer questions over why such attention was paid to the unsubstantiated claims in the first place.
27 Met Police officers have spent the last 15 months fruitlessly searching for evidence to corroborate claims that high profile politicians including former Prime Minister Ted Heath and the late former Home Secretary Leon Brittan abused and even murdered children at a string of parties in Dolphin Square, a prestigious central London residence.
With the collapse of Operation Midland imminent, the main accuser, a man known only as “Nick”, has been described as a serial fantasist, the Daily Mail has reported. Critics are calling for him to be prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Meanwhile solicitors for former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, who had his home raided and was questioned under caution, are expecting to receive confirmation from officers that no charges will be brought against their client.
Officers had already been forced to drop charges against one of Britain’s most distinguished living soldiers, 92-year-old Field Marshal Lord Bramall, whose home was raided by 22 officers while his wife, Avril, was dying of Alzheimer’s disease.
The claims hung over Lord Bramhall for almost a year and Lady Bramhall did not live to see the charges against her husband dismissed; yet Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has repeatedly refused to apologise to the distinguished veteran, and has even tried to justify the raid.
Sir Bernard’s contract is not expected to be renewed in September. Last month, a high-ranking former officer with the Met said: “This is colouring everything he does now. I think he is now a dead man walking. His whole tenure is tainted by this. The lack of judgment is extraordinary. He has been found out – of course he has to go.”
Operation Midland also came under fire after one of its most senior officers appeared to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation by calling the witness statements “credible and true”.
An investigation by Scotland Yard ruled the comment by Det Supt Kenny McDonald was “a mistake.”
“Only a jury can decide on the truth of allegations after hearing all the evidence,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.
“We should always reflect that in our language and we acknowledge that describing the allegations as ‘credible and true’ suggested we were pre-empting the outcome of the investigation.
“We were not.
“We always retain an open mind as we have demonstrated by conducting a thorough investigation.”
Officers involved in the investigation have conceded that one of their main objectives is now only to ensure that Operation Midland can withstand scrutiny by the Goddard Inquiry, set up by the government to examine allegations that British institutions covered up child abuse.
A source close to the case has told the Times that Met officers were ready “to throw in the towel” before they were hit by more bad publicity.