Britain’s most senior police officer is forced to defend VIP child murder and sex abuse probe as ‘very thorough and professional’ and denies it will be shut down
- Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said Operation Midland is not about to collapse
- Met commissioner also defended decision to back whistleblower ‘Nick’
- Critics including head of CPS admit Scotland Yard may have gone too far
Britain’s most senior police officer today denied Scotland Yard has botched the investigation into the alleged Westminster VIP paedophile ring.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said that Operation Midland is not about to collapse and he believes it has been ‘a very thorough and professional inquiry’.
His detectives have been accused of being wrong to declare that the key witness in the Westminster child abuse scandal was definitely telling the truth.
The man, known as Nick, has accused a series of establishment figures of joining a child abuse ring which committed rape and the murder of three young boys.
Yesterday Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said ‘you don’t just take someone’s word for it’ in any criminal inquiry while others said it was ‘pre-empting the outcome of the investigation’.
Sir Bernard also rejected claims by former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor – who said he was the victim of a ‘homosexual witch hunt’ after twice being questioned by detectives – that police are preparing an ‘exit strategy’ to end the controversial inquiry.
Speaking to London radio station LBC, Sir Bernard said detectives would have been rightly criticised if they had not taken allegations of three murders seriously and said people should not focus on ‘the use of one word, in one interview’.
He said: ‘I think they have carried out a very thorough and professional inquiry which they are in the middle of and you are saying ‘why are you still carrying it on?’. But for that one word then I think it has been a very good inquiry.’
He said claims that Midland would close were ‘not accurate’, adding: ‘We will do whatever we need to do to get to the bottom of this, it has taken a while to get this far but the trouble with these inquiries is often the victims and the witnesses don’t have total recall of the information or the detail of the offence, and clearly we have struggled at times to corroborate, with such a passage of time, some of the things that have been said.’
Accused: Tories Harvey Proctor (pictured left) and former prime minister Sir Edward Heath (right) were all in a VIP paedophile ring, according to claims by ‘Nick’
Criticism: People, including those being investigated, say claims of rape and murder at the heart of Westminster made by ‘Nick’ had been given too much credence
When the inquiry was launched, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald said officers who had spoken to an alleged victim, known by the pseudonym ‘Nick’, thought his account was ‘credible and true’.
In Monday’s statement Scotland Yard defended its work, saying: ‘Whilst we start from a position of believing the witness, our stance then is to investigate without fear or favour, in a thorough, professional and impartial fashion, and to go where the evidence takes us without prejudging the truth of the allegations. That is exactly what has happened in this case.’
Operation Midland includes allegations of sexual abuse but it is ‘and remains’ a murder investigation, the statement said.
Last month Mr Proctor, who represented Basildon in Essex from 1979 to 1983 and Billericay from 1983 to 1987, told a packed press conference that former prime minister Sir Edward Heath and ex-home secretary Leon Brittan had been named among his ‘alleged co-conspirators’.
Allegations: Nick’s late stepfather – who was allegedly part of the paedophile ring – retired from the Army around the time Nick says he was first abused at Dolphin Square (pictured) in Pimlico, London
He criticised Sir Bernard’s comments today, saying that Mr McDonald’s words had not been ‘off the cuff’.
Mr Proctor said: ‘It was a very slow and deliberate statement and it was made after Scotland Yard threw their own press conference.’
He added: ‘I’m not sure that the police commissioner should be in the media treating it like a quiz show, allocating marks of quality and ranking to his inquiries.’
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