How the Operation Midland investigation into Carl Beech’s false claims unfolded
Harvey Proctor described the investigation as a ‘truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing’. But how did it unfold?
Allegations made by Carl Beech sparked a £2 million Metropolitan Police investigation, known as Operation Midland, with officers raiding the homes of several high-profile figures who were falsely accused.
Here is a timeline of events relating to the case:
– December 6
Beech is interviewed by Wiltshire Police Detective Constable Mark Lewis after making a complaint about child sex abuse. He says his stepfather, Major Ray Beech, and Jimmy Savile both abused him. The force later marks the case as “undetected” and takes no further action.
– October 23
After meeting with reporters, Beech comes forward to the Metropolitan Police with a string of allegations against high-profile figures.
– November 14
Police announce the launch of the Operation Midland investigation into claims of “possible homicide” linked to an alleged VIP paedophile ring. The investigation centres on claims by a man known only as “Nick”.
– December 18
Scotland Yard appeals for information regarding the alleged murders of three young boys linked to the supposed paedophile ring. People who lived in or visited London’s Dolphin Square apartments in the 1970s are asked to come forward. A Metropolitan Police officer describes the allegations made by “Nick” as “credible and true”.
– March 4
The home of former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor is searched by officers investigating “historic child sexual abuse”. Later that day, Mr Proctor denies being part of a “rent-boy ring” or attending sex parties. The homes of Lord Brittan and Lord Bramall are later searched.
– April 30
Normandy veteran Lord Bramall, then 91, is interviewed under caution.
– August 25
Mr Proctor holds a dramatic press conference in which he denounces the allegations made by “Nick” and claims he is the victim of a “homosexual witch hunt”.
– September 22
Alison Saunders, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the time, admits that Scotland Yard may have “overstepped the mark” in describing ‘Nick’s’ allegations as “credible and true”.
– January 15
Lord Bramall is told that he faces no further action. The field marshal describes being investigated as an “awful” experience. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, then the Metropolitan Police commissioner, later apologises to him.
– March 21
Mr Proctor reveals he has been told he will face no further action. Operation Midland is closed without a single arrest having been made. Days later, the widow of Lord Brittan, who died in January 2015, is told that her husband would have had no case to answer.
– November 2
A specialist team raids Beech’s rented three-bedroom home in Gloucester. Officers seize electronic devices, which reveal indecent images and covert images of boys.
– November 8
A report by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques finds that Scotland Yard made “numerous errors” in Operation Midland. He says that a major contributing factor was “the culture that ‘victims’ must be believed”.
– September 7
Northumbria Police pass a file to the CPS to determine whether “Nick” should face charges of perverting the course of justice and fraud.
Aware that charges may follow from Northumbria Police’s investigation, “Nick” travels to Calais, before attempting to start a new life as a fugitive in Sweden. Growing a beard as a disguise and using several different names, he buys two properties there.
– July 3
“Nick” is charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud. Mr Proctor says: “Justice must now be allowed to take its course.”
– October 20
Having been extradited from Sweden, “Nick” appears at Newcastle Crown Court.
– December 3
“Nick” is unmasked as Carl Beech after Judge Paul Sloan QC, the Recorder of Newcastle, lifts a reporting restriction preventing the media from naming him.
– January 22
Beech pleads guilty at Hereford Crown Court to voyeurism, making indecent images of children, and possessing indecent images. The court hears how he covertly filmed a teenage boy urinating.
– February 18
Beech pleads not guilty to charges of perverting the course of justice and fraud.
– May 14
His trial begins at Newcastle Crown Court. Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC described Beech’s account to detectives as “totally unfounded, hopelessly compromised and irredeemably contradicted”.
– July 3
Beech takes to the witness stand during the trial. He repeats the allegations that he made to detectives and stands by them.
– July 22 – a jury convicts Beech. He will be sentenced later.