Chris Fay and “Darren” Confirmed as IPCC Complainants Against DCI Paul Settle

From Robert Mendick at the Daily Telegraph:

The senior detective who warned against a “baseless witch hunt” of VIPs over false sex abuse allegations remains under official investigation after being reported to the police watchdog by a convicted fraudster and a fantasist.

…One of the men can be named today as Chris Fay, who was sentenced to a year in jail for fraud for his part in a scam in which pensioners were conned out of alomost £300,000. The other, a fantasist who falsely claimed he had witnessed the murders of children and a young man with Down’s syndrome by a paedophile gang, was also jailed for making hoax bomb calls.

…The IPCC said in an email to The Daily Telegraph that “both members of the public allege the improper disclosure to the press of people’s personal and sensitive details by a senior Metropolitan Police Service officer”.

For some reason, the article is only available via PressReader, although the Daily Mail has produced a derivative piece that covers the same ground. It follows an earlier Telegraph article from October, which confirmed that one of the complainants was the bomb hoaxer – a man given the name “Darren” by the media, for legal reasons. “Darren’s” past was the subject of an article by Mendick in September 2015, so the reporter ought to be in a good position to know whether his complaint to the IPCC about a supposed leak has validity.

The detective under investigation is Paul Settle – last month, Settle gave a remarkable interview in a private capacity in which he said he had been “frozen out and isolated by senior officers” after Tom Watson MP criticised his decision that Leon Brittan had no case to answer following an investigation into a rape allegation.

The IPCC investigation was first revealed by Exaro in January, although Settle wasn’t named:

IPCC probes Panorama source over leaking of CSA survivors’ IDs

…The Independent Complaints Commission (IPCC) will itself carry out the investigation into the senior detective over allegations that he passed to Panorama and newspapers confidential details of witnesses who made allegations to Scotland Year of child sex abuse (CSA) by VIPs.

…The Met fears that the officer embarked on an attempt to sabotage several of its investigations launched since 2012 into alleged sexual abuse by MPs and other prominent men.

…The Met said in a statement: “In September 2015, the directorate of professional standards received a public complaint regarding the improper disclosure of information to the media. In October (1), a second complaint was received.”

The supposed motive was also emphasized by Exaro‘s Mark Watts on Twitter:

IPCC set to ask senior cop: did you use Panorama, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph to help you sabotage Met CSA investigations into VIPs?

I blogged on the newspaper articles and BBC Panorama episode at the time. This IPCC question as formulated by Watts verges on “have you stopped beating your wife?” – Settle’s guilt is presumed, the only uncertainty being whether media outlets were accomplices in his “sabotage”.

It seems that BBC did have some access to the investigation into “Darren’s” claims; a September 2105 BBC News article has the detail that

‘Darren’ told police he had been abused by a range of people in the county, but also by senior politicians in London – at the Dolphin Square apartment complex.

However, two sources have told the BBC that when questioned by detectives, ‘Darren’ said he was uncertain of the identities of these politicians and as a result the police decided they could not investigate.

However, this does not mean that Settle therefore leaked Darren’s identity or personal details: in the summer of 2015 “Darren” had been interviewed for an Australian 60 Minutes documentary called “Spies, Lords and Predators”, meaning that his identity would have been known to media professionals already. Further, as Gojam noted in the Needle in September, Darren had also previously “attended an event where lots of journalists were and then appeared on BBC News on camera with his real name underneath.” Thus the investigative articles that Exaro found so objectionable are perfectly explicable without any “leak”.

Gojam’s September post also identified “Darren” and Fay as the IPCC complainants, despite the Telegraph‘s assertion that Fay is only being “named today”. I had missed this, and so had continued to assume that the IPCC complaints in fact pertained to “Nick”, who had made the most sensational allegations of child murder and rape against politicians and other VIPs.

Perhaps I should have realised that Exaro was being coy out of self-interest – there would be no reason not specify a complaint from “Nick”, whose past is respectable, whereas Fay and Darren are both highly problematic individuals. But what kind of journalism would characterise references to Fay’s past criminality as “sabotage” rather than important information in the public interest? Fay’s 2011 conviction had been reported nationally at the time; the only mystery is why it took the media so long to re-discover it after he re-emerged in 2014 with an alleged list of VIP abusers who had supposedly made their way to the Elm Guest House in the 1980s. Again, no “leak” is required.

UPDATE (6 July 2017): The IPCC has not upheld the complaints, following what it describes as a “thorough investigation” that included obtaining statements “from the complainants, DCI Settle, and a number of journalists named by the complainants as having received information from him.”

Strangely, however, a draft of the statement was published by Watts on 28 June.

Footnote

(1) The October 2016 Telegraph article gives December 2015 as the date for the second complaint, rather than October 2015.

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