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Met boss says sorry over error-strewn 'abuse' probe

By Hayden Smith

Published 09/11/2016

Apology: Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Apology: Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

Britain's most senior police officer has made a series of extraordinary apologies over the "numerous errors" in a disastrous investigation into baseless claims of a VIP paedophile ring.

Retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques criticised Scotland Yard for a catalogue of failings in its £2.5m Operation Midland, which closed without a single arrest earlier this year.

The 16-month probe saw raids on the homes of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall; late former home secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor after lurid claims were made by one alleged victim, known as 'Nick'.

Sir Richard, who was called in to review the force's handling of sex crime claims against high profile suspects, said the trio's reputations "were shattered by the word of a single, uncorroborated complainant". Nick is now facing investigation for allegedly trying to pervert the course of justice.

As key parts of the report were published, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he "fully recognised" the peers and Mr Proctor, who was accused of three murders, were all innocent. He apologised to Lord Bramall, Mr Proctor and Lord Brittan's widow for raiding their homes and "the impact of Operation Midland on their lives".

Mr Proctor and figures close to Lord Bramall and Lady Brittan reacted with fury at the timing of the publication of the report - on the day of the US election - but Sir Bernard, who is set to retire in February before the end of his current contract, denied trying to bury bad news. A friend of Lady Brittan said: "We've no intention of being handled or managed by the Met's PR machine."

Sir Richard's damning review found 43 failings in the inquiry, including believing Nick for too long; one officer announcing publicly that his claims were "credible and true"; and applying for search warrants with flawed information.

The former judge said: "The principal cause of the many failures in this investigation was poor judgment and a failure to accurately evaluate known facts and to react to them. A major contributing factor was the culture that 'victims' must be believed."

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