Edward Heath: Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday Clash on Chief Constable Mike Veale

From the Daily Mail:

False claims of provincial police chief obsessed with proving Ted Heath was a paedophile: Mike Veale has spent £1.4million and failed to come up with a shred of evidence, says GUY ADAMS

The article quotes “a police source” who describes Veale as an inexperienced “provincial carrot cruncher” and the Operation Conifer police investigation into the deceased former Prime Minister as a “shambles” presided over by “coppers whose priorities are usually stopping speeding motorists on the A303”.

This is in sharp contrast with last week’s Mail on Sunday, which carried a softball interview with Veale by political editor Simon Walters (discussed here) and a companion op-ed by former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver that praised Veale as having “given a textbook demonstration of how the police should be free from political interference and able to investigate crimes without fear or favour.”

Adams is an all-purpose Daily Mail attack dog, and his article doubtless reflects rivalry between the two sister-papers. However, it is not simply the case that one paper is credulous while the other is sceptical: in 2014, Adams wrote up Don Hale’s claims about a supposed dossier on VIP sex abuse compiled by Barbara Castle as if Hale’s unevidenced assertions were fact, and he retained confidence in Hale even after Hale added Edward Heath to his tall tale the following year. Further, while the Daily Mail wrote about a “stench” around allegations against Greville Janner, David Rose later expressed scepticism about an “Establishment cover up” in the Mail on Sunday (discussed here).

Veale’s “false claims” highlighted by the new headline refer to how Veale responded after details about some accusers had appeared in the media in November 2016:

Some, a newspaper had just claimed, were oddballs propagating an obviously fake conspiracy theory that the former PM belonged to a paedophile network behind satanic orgies at which small children were stabbed to death in rural churches.

That newspaper – curiously unnamed by Adams – was in fact the Mail on Sunday, and the story provided a front-page splash for Home Affairs correspondent Martin Beckford:

Sir Edward Heath accuser is a ‘satanic sex fantasist’: Police warned by OWN expert that ritual abuse claims are false – including how the former PM ‘went to candlelit forest for paedophile parties’

I discussed this story here. There is some implicit criticism the headline and story which is absent in later Mail on Sunday articles on Operation Conifer, which were all instead written by Walters. It is perhaps significant here that whereas Beckford’s article was based on a whistleblowing disclosure from an expert consulted by the police (Richard/Rachel Hoskins), Walters instead received a stream of leaks (e.g. here and here) from “sources” and “friends” of Veale – most likely, these were facilitated by Andrew Bridgen MP, who has been vocal in his support for Veale and who was given advance access to the Operation Conifer Summary Report. (1)

The same November 2016 report also referred to “Nick”, the anonymous complainant who had prompted the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland allegations into alleged VIP child sex abuse and murder; this investigation was still current in August 2015, when Operation Conifer first got underway, but it was about to come under serious critical scrutiny (see here, here and here) and by March 2016 it had collapsed in ignominy. Veale pressed on despite this outcome, and regardless of the scathing Henriques Review that followed [UPDATE 2019: Nick can now be named as Carl Beech, and his claims have been found to have been fraudulent. More details here].

Adams writes:

The video, which remains online, began with Veale saying he wanted to ‘set the record straight’ about Heath and ‘ensure that the current facts are entirely and unequivocally clear about this case’.

…’Fact!’ he said. ‘As part of Operation Conifer we have not spoken to the witness known as Nick.’

‘Fact!’ he continued. ‘Recent media coverage… referred to satanic ritual sexual abuse. Let me be clear: this part of the investigation is only one small element of the overall inquiry and does not relate to Sir Edward Heath.’

Adams notes that the Summary Report (discussed here) actually refers to six Satanic Ritual Abuse accusers (as I discussed here), and he adds that:

In fact, in the past two years Wiltshire police have devoted significant resources to pursuing the case of ‘Nick’, reviewing a number of statements made by him to other forces.

This does not contradict Veale’s assurance that “we have not spoken to the witness known as Nick”, but it does suggest that he was misleadingly downplaying interest in Nick. Adams thus asks:

[W]hy did Mike Veale, the chief constable behind one of the most high-profile police investigations in British history, seek to solve a PR crisis by issuing a statement so transparently inaccurate?

It is impossible to be sure, as Wiltshire Police say they will ‘not be making further comment’.

So we are left to speculate. Did Veale deliberately say something untrue (making him a liar)? Or did he make the false claim by accident (making him incompetent)? Or is there some other explanation?

One person who thinks that Veale lied is Harvey Proctor, who had been an Operation Midland suspect. After the November 2016 Mail on Sunday article, Proctor contacted Veale, as he has explained in a comment left on this blog:

…A week before Chef Constable Veale published his Open Letter concerning Operation Conifer on 2nd December 2016. I wrote to him asking for his assurance that I was not part of his enquiries. I had had enough of Operation Midland’s madness. He reassured me that I was not. My letter of complaint to Veale obviously gave him the idea to issue his Open Letter in rebuttal because his force carefully arranged for me to receive his reply to me AFTER the publication of his P R initiative. It was a stunt. It was deliberate discourtesy and a P R tactic which I have become accustomed to from certain police forces in the last 3 years.

 However, I am more concerned that a Chief Constable should have deliberately misled and lied to me.It was deceitful. I now understand that three months earlier Wiltshire Police had passed statements under Operation Midland made by “Nick”, the only declarant of abuse against me and Sir Edward and others to an “expert”. These statements, involving 3 murders of children and their sexual abuse and torture, WERE reviewed by Wiltshire Police. This review included “Nick’s” claim that I did not castrate “Nick” because of Sir Edward’s ministrations. When “Nick’s” statements were passed to an expert to examine, the expert was told by retired Police Supt Taylor that they were a central part of Operation Conifer’s investigations.

As such, in any impartial and balanced investigation, I should have been interviewed by Operation Conifer detectives. Why was I not interviewed? Because they knew from the closure of Operation Midland 6 months earlier that there was not a shred of truth in these allegations. But without chance of seeing my rebuttal to these statements against Sir Edward and myself, they have stained the rest of their investigations. Why was I not interviewed? Because I was ALIVE and my evidence would have provided balance and insight into their total inquiry.. They ran a mile from that. Similarly there have been others, in an impartial enquiry, who should have been interviewed but who were not. Stigma was more important to the Wiltshire Police than Fact…

Read the whole comment here.


(1) Mark Watts, who has perhaps done more than anyone to promote uncritical and sensationalising stories about “VIP sex abuse”, now writes that:

The Mail on Sunday performed a hand-brake turn on the story last February when it realised that Operation Conifer had assessed several of its witnesses as credible.

However, although this heavily implies a strategic leak, he also quotes Veale as complaining that Operation Conifer had been a subject of headlines for over two years despite “not one operational detail” being “in the public domain”.