£1.8m VIP paedophile ring investigation closed without single arrest
A fiercely-criticised police investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring has been dropped.
The Metropolitan Police probe, called Operation Midland, was launched in November 2014 after claims that boys were sexually abused by a number of public figures more than 30 years ago.
It cost £1.8 million up to November 2015 and did not lead to a single arrest, but saw raids on the homes of 92-year-old D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and the late Lord Brittan.
Ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who furiously denied any involvement, was interviewed under caution twice and had his home searched but has now been told he will face no further action.
Late former prime minister Edward Heath was also named in connection with the inquiry.
Defending the investigation, Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, said: "It is absolutely right that we assessed carefully the allegations made to us in October 2014 and did not dismiss them prematurely. Our initial inquiries supported the need for a thorough investigation to seek any evidence that might corroborate or disprove the allegations."
He insisted that the inquiry was "handled well", and refused to apologise to Mr Proctor, who called for a string of senior officers, including Mr Rodhouse and Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to resign.
Speaking at Scotland Yard this afternoon, Mr Rodhouse said: "I think it's been handled well. It's been a difficult inquiry. Investigating matters over a 10 year period back in the 70s and 80s is always difficult, particularly when there are people of public prominence included in that investigation. But it's right that we investigate without fear or favour allegations of serious crime."
He refused to apologise to Mr Proctor, who had claimed he was the victim of a homosexual witchunt. The senior officer said: "I regret any distress that it's caused to any individual, of course I do, but the Met can't apologise for investigating serious allegations."
The inquiry centred on allegations by a man known as "Nick", and two further complainants who came forward after the probe was launched. As well as abuse claims, it was looking into the alleged murder of three young boys. At one point a detective described Nick's account as "credible and true".
But the investigation came under intense scrutiny after the Met announced in January that Lord Bramall would face no further action.
The development sparked calls for police to offer an apology to the former armed forces chief - which Scotland Yard refused - and prompted questions over the veracity of "Nick's" claims.
In a statement running to more than 1,000 words, the force said: "In the course of the investigation, officers have not found evidence to prove that they were knowingly misled by a complainant. The Metropolitan Police Service does not investigate complainants simply on the basis that their allegations have not been corroborated."
"Nick" claimed that one of the potential homicide victims looked like 15-year-old Martin Allen, who vanished in November 1979, and a separate investigation will continue into his disappearance.
The force said: "The disappearance of Martin Allen remains an outstanding concern for the Metropolitan Police Service and for his family, who do not know what happened to their son. Specialist investigators from the Homicide and Major Crime Command will continue a missing person inquiry into Martin's disappearance."
An independent, judge-led inquiry has already been announced into how Scotland Yard has dealt with historical sex abuse investigations involving public figures.
Former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques will examine a number of inquiries, including Operation Midland.