Police watchdog condemned over VIP abuse inquiry

Carl Beech: Watchdog condemned over review of police inquiry The police watchdog has been strongly criticised by a retired High Court judge for its review of how detectives handled false claims of a Westminster paedophile ring  The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) cleared five detectives of wrongdoing, but Sir Richard Henriques said its review was “flawed”  Sir Richard said it “fell well short of an effective investigation”.  The IOPC said its work was “thorough” and “detailed”  No officers were prosecuted or disciplined for their part in Scotland Yard’s £2.5 million Operation Midland, which investigated bogus claims made by Carl Beech, previously known as “Nick”  Beech, 51, from Gloucester, was subsequently jailed for 18 years for false accusations, including those which prompted searches of the homes of three prominent people  In his 2016 report into Operation Midland, Sir Richard found the searches “should not have taken place”, were “unlawful” and that police “misled” the magistrate who approved them  The report was partly published by Scotland Yard last week.’Slow and inadequate’ Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper, Sir Richard said the police watchdog embarked upon a “lamentably slow and inadequate process” in reviewing the work of five Metropolitan Police detectives involved in obtaining search warrants  He wrote: “Who guards the guards themselves? Who watches the watchers? A malfunctioning police force has not received the necessary oversight  “Those acting for those shamefully and adversely affected by this chain of events need no assistance from me The home secretary will wish to address these shocking failures.” Sir Richard said the officers’ belief that Beech had “remained consistent” in his accounts of sexual abuse was incorrect and that police “failed to disclose seven factors that undermined Beech’s credibility”  He added that the IOPC only contacted him after after 20 months, and then told him that two of the five officers under investigation had already been cleared  The IOPC continued to investigate three officers, but they retired before it published its findings  Sir Richard said: “Whilst I have been treated with the utmost courtesy, I have been alarmed by the [IOPC’s] lack of knowledge of relevant criminal procedure ” He added: “I readily conclude that one or more of the five officers may not have committed misconduct in the application for warrants  “However I find it difficult to conceive that no misconduct or criminality was involved by at least one officer ” The IOPC said that its review of the officers’ work “was not a cursory exercise” and “independent and impartial”  A spokesperson said: “This was a thorough and detailed investigation, reviewing over 1,800 documents, 300 statements gathering 14 independent witness accounts and gaining accounts to three officers who were under investigation  “As Sir Richard writes ‘no subject should be tried without proper investigation’ And, as he acknowledges in his own review, the IOPC is the right and correct authority to do this Our investigation was both independent and impartial. “To suggest there is no accountability is also wrong Our report contains 16 learning recommendations that advocate systemic change so this never happens again ” The IOPC’s report is due to be published later on Monday. Last week, the Met’s deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House said that he was “deeply, deeply sorry” for the pain caused by the Met’s “serious mistakes” during Operation Midland but that the force did not accept everything in Sir Richard’s report  Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered an inspection by the chief inspector of constabulary, following Sir Richard’s review

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