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Met should have told Lord Brittan that rape probe was dropped, says widow

The widow of Lord Brittan has spoken publicly for the first time about the way police handled false allegations of rape against him.

The Metropolitan Police decided the former home secretary had no case to answer, but failed to tell him before he died of cancer.

Lady Brittan said police should have informed him as he battled the disease.

She told the BBC: "I think, particularly for him, he should have known that he was innocent of the charges before he died, but that didn't happen."

Asked how he dealt with the situation, Lady Brittan said: "I think he kept it very much to himself because his major objective during those last few months was to get better, get well, do everything that he could to get well."

Lady Brittan said her husband was in hospital when she first learned he was under investigation.

"I went to see him one afternoon and he said 'I've just been just been rung by the police'. I said 'What's it about?' He said 'I'm not terribly sure, but I've just said to them I'll ring my lawyers'.

"And then the lawyers rang me, and then they said to me this is an old rape allegation, 47 years old, against Leon.

"And then, about a couple of weeks later, he was interviewed under caution. And at the end of it he felt absolutely assured in his own mind that would be the end of the matter."

Lady Brittan said she found out from a newspaper report that the police had decided not to pursue the matter.

"I learnt, it must have been in July of the following year after he died, from the Independent on Sunday, there was a press report, that no further action would have been taken.

"I then got my lawyers to write to the police saying 'Was this story true?' because they hadn't bothered to inform me, and I suppose, about a month later, I got a reply."

Lady Brittan said the reply stated: "We wouldn't have continued it, not enough evidence, sorry we have caused you distress."

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle, whose original decision not to interview Lord Brittan was overturned by senior Metropolitan Police officers, condemned the way the family was treated.

He told the BBC: "I think they were treated absolutely atrociously, and my view was that he never need know that somebody had made a spurious allegation against him."

Mr Settle also said the Met had tried to stop him giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee on the matter last year.


From Belfast Telegraph