Carl Beech: Metropolitan Police’s 2015 Search Warrant Application Published

Application referred to counsellor’s belief in Beech’s claims

Yesterday, the Daily Mail published “key passages” from the Metropolitan Police’s 2015 application for a warrant to search the properties of three individuals accused by the “VIP paedophile ring” hoaxer Carl Beech. The document is currently at the centre of a national controversy, following retired High Court judge Richard Henriques’s view – expressed by him in an article for the paper – that the application was misleading and that therefore the police had broken the law.

However, the text was presented online as a graphic, and so I have provided a transcript below. First though, some notes:

1. The Mail lists various reasons why the raids should not have occurred. Police had looked into Beech’s background and found “no evidence of physical abuse, injury or proof that he been absent from school as he had alleged”; they had accounted for all boys named Scott from his primary school, and none had been killed in a hit-and-run, as Beech alleged; police apparently already suspended that Beech had used email to create a false corroborative witness named “Fred”; and his account was not consistent with a complaint he had made to Wiltshire Police in 2012, or with accounts he had posted online.

2. The text could have been written more clearly. In particular, the sentence “Enquiries made relating to the victim find nothing to suggest any links to those that he accuses, suggesting his allegations are malicious” means the opposite to what was presumably intended, which was that there was no (apparent) reason for him to have made a malicious allegation (we now know, of course, that Proctor was chosen because he had been involved in a sex scandal; Brittan was named based on old malicious rumours; and Bramall was targeted as an extension of Beech’s grudge against his late step-father, who had been a military man). Such ambiguity in a document put before a judge is concerning.

3. The application relies on the subjective opinion of counsellors: “Prior to police involvement these allegations were detailed to an independent counsellor by the victim who also supports his account as being credible. At the request of police a qualified consultant Dr Elly Hanson was asked to give an opinion if the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility.” The Mail describes this as “passing the buck”, and suggests that the importance of the counsellors was “overstated”. It is also worth noting how responsibility here is made diffuse. The police rely on their consultant rather than on Beech’s counsellor, but the consultant assesses the counsellor rather than Beech himself (although Hanson and Beech later appeared together at public events). Who, then, is accountable for getting it wrong? (The methods of Beech’s counsellor were recently discussed by Richard Hoskins, as I noted here.)

4. The application form’s guidance notes state that the applicant “must inform the court if there is anything else that might influence the court’s decision to issue a warrant. This may include whether there is any unusual feature of the investigation”. The Mail here points out that the whole case was “unusual”, but it could have gone further – surely, the most “unusual” feature of the case was Beech’s claim that former Prime Minister Edward Heath was involved? I think we can be confident that the Mail would have mentioned it if Heath’s name appears in some part of the application that it has not published; his absence suggests to me that police wanted to tone down Beech’s most extravagant claims.

5. Judge Riddle, in his decision approving the application, writes that “I am satisfied that the police are fully aware of the sensitivities and the need for a proportionate approach without press involvement”. Yet as soon as Proctor’s home was raided the matter reached the media very quickly. The Daily Mail – devoid of its current campaigning scepticismran a splash declaring that “Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”, and referring to “a list of politicians passed to police by campaigning Labour MP John Mann” (1).

Mann’s list seems to have been a red herring as regards the reason for the raid (although from what the Mail has published we can’t know what the application said about Proctor and Brittan – only the section on Bramall is provided), but while it is doubtful that he would still want to take credit for it nobody is pressing him on the point. We also now know that the police created a spectacle when they arrived at Lord Bramall’s house, including a number of officers dining at the local village pub.

Footnote

1. That 2015 headline is slightly odd, in that the full version is “VIP abuse police raid home of shamed Tory: Veteran Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”. Why is Proctor described as a “veteran”? Veteran of what? He had been out of public life for nearly three decades at this point. Was this perhaps an early reference to Lord Bramall, which was excised from the published version but one word left in by mistake?

***

APPLICATION FOR SEARCH WARRANT
(Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 6.30; Section 8, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984)

Application to: District Judge Howard Riddle at Westminster Magistrates Cout
This is an application by: DS Eric Sword, Westminster Court

1. The offence(s) under investigation The victim in this matter has been interviewed at length by experienced officers from the child abuse investigative team. His account has remained consistent and he is felt to be a credible witness who is telling the truth.

Enquiries made relating to the victim find nothing to suggest any links to those that he accuses, suggesting his allegations are malicious. The victim is not known to police.

Prior to police involvement these allegations were detailed to an independent counsellor by the victim who also supports his account as being credible. At the request of police a qualified consultant Dr Elly Hanson was asked to give an opinion if the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility. Dr Hanson (sic) views were that the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility.

2. The investigation The victim contacted police in late 2014 detailing allegations of serious sexual assault. He stated that he had been present when three separate males had been murdered by his group of abusers. He states this abuse was often carried out when he was in the company of other boys of a similar age who were also abused.

He states that from the age of 7 until he was 16 he was subject to regular sexual assaults by persons introduced to him by his stepfather, a major in the British Army.

He named various high-profile individuals as his abusers and those that are subject to these applications are Lord Edwin Bramall, Lord Leon Brittan (recently deceased) and Keith Harvey Proctor. The victim alleges that he was present at the scene of three murders and he names Harvey Proctor as being involved in two of these offences and Leon Brittan as being present during one of them.

Lord Edwin Bramall
Between 1975-1984 it is alleged that he abused the victim on numerous occasions, including sexual assault, buggery, and torture. This included the victim being tied up, beaten and burned with a lighter by his group of abusers.

The alleged offences involving Bramall are to have been committed in the following locations: unknown residential premises in Wiltshire Army barracks in Wilton, Wiltshire (Erskine), Imber Military training village in Salisbury, Army barracks in Bicester – other unknown military establishments. He is also alleged to have been present at pool parties where boys were abused – believed to be the Dolphin Square complex in Pimlico.

[…]

3. Material sought. What are you looking for?
Documents, journals or records detailing action by named individuals in relation to the abuse of the victim or others. Still images of the victim or any other child of an indecent nature.

[…]

8. Duty of disclosure Is there anything of which you are aware that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of this application or which for some other reasons might affect the court’s decision? Include anything that reasonably might call into question the credibility of information you have received and explain why you have decided that that information still can be relied upon.

(ANSWER IN A BOX) N/A

[…]

9. Declaration
To the best of my knowledge and belief:

a) This application discloses all the information that is material to what the court must decide, including anything that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of the application and

b) The content of this application is true

Signed: DS Eric Sword Date: 27/2/15 Time 11.30

10. Authorisation

Authorising officer’s name: Alison Hepworth (DI)
Date: 27/2/15 Time: 13.00

[…]

Decision

The applicant satisfied me about his or her entitlement to make application.

The applicant confirmed on oath or affirmation the declaration in box 9.

I am satisfied that the police are fully aware of the sensitivities and the need for a proportionate approach without press involvement. This has been considered at DAC level. I am satisfied the access material (sic) are met and have been properly considered.

I am satisfied that interference with the private life of the parties is justified, necessary and proportionate.

Name: HCP Riddle Date: 2 March 2015 Time: 12 noon.

[…]

NOTES FOR GUIDANCE

11. Information that might undermine the grounds of the application

Information that might undermine any of the grounds of the application must be included in the application, or the court’s authority for the search may be ineffective.

The applicant must inform the court if there is anything else that might influence the court’s decision to issue a warrant. This may include whether there is any unusual feature of the investigation or of any potential prosecution.