Fall-Out from the Operation Midland Fiasco Continues

From the Daily Mail:

Former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse should face a disciplinary board over allegations he lied in public at the conclusion of Operation Midland, the police watchdog has ruled.


…In another stunning victory for the Mail, two fantasists exposed in our damning two-part probe last year have been referred to West Midlands Police to be investigated over claims they may have perverted the course of justice.

…despite clear evidence that the pair – known as Witnesses A and B – deliberately misled detectives, the Met twice declined to launch a criminal investigation into them. This involved ignoring the recommendation of retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who wrote a scathing report on Midland and called for them to be probed.

The decision to charge Mr Rodhouse with gross misconduct comes six months after he was served with a formal notice alleging he used ‘inaccurate or dishonest’ words at the end of Midland.

The career-threatening accusations centre on a press statement issued by the Met in March 2016 in which Mr Rodhouse said ‘officers have not found evidence to prove that they were knowingly misled by a complainant’.

The article is by Stephen Wright and Richard Pendlebury, who interviewed “Witness A” last year. The “police watchdog” is the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which previously investigated Operation Midland under the name “Operation Kentia“. Operation Midland was infamously triggered by Carl Beech, a man whose extravagant tales of VIP child sex abuse and murder were declared to be “credible and true” before any of his claims had been examined and despite obvious similarities with “Satanic panic” ritual abuse tropes from the 1980s. Beech is now in prison, both for perverting the course of justice and for possessing indecent images of children. It is alleged that Rodhouse misled the public over evidence that “Witness A” and “Witness B”, who both latched onto Beech’s allegations, had deliberately lied to police.

Rodhouse is currently joint deputy head of the National Crime Agency, and the fact that he has not been suspended while the investigation takes place is the subject of a companion article by Wright that quotes Paul Settle:

Former detective chief inspector Paul Settle, who blew the whistle on Mr Rodhouse’s disastrous pursuit of innocent VIPs, accused law enforcement chiefs of ‘double standards’. ‘If he was a junior officer charged with gross misconduct, he would be removed from operational duties or suspended immediately,’ said Mr Settle.

The article also features a chart titled “The nexus of Nick”, referring to the name the false accuser Carl Beech was given by the media before he was exposed. According to the caption blurb, it “lays bare the extraordinary police, media and political links in the still unravelling story”. As this is a (barely legible) graphic rather than text, I describe it in more detail below.

The Daily Mail article also quotes the former MP Harvey Proctor, whose decision to hold a press conference while he was still a suspect in 2015 did much to expose the extent to which the Metropolitan Police had been taken in by fantastical claims totally lacking in evidence or plausibility. His full statement has been posted to Twitter; he writes that

…The IOPC’s investigation, Operation Thyamus, reveals the corporate cover-up which has been perpetrated by the Metropolitan Police Service these last 8 years concerning its errors in Operation Midland. It is long overdue but very welcome, nonetheless.

In particular, he refers to search warrants that were allegedly issued on the basis of “lies” told by police to the magistrate, and to the destruction of documents, “particularly after I asked Cressida Dick to preserve them for future scrutiny by future public inquiries”. He has also discussed the new development on GB News in conversation with Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Operation Midland has been the subject of other scathing and mocking commentary by GB News presenters (although these presenters incorrectly attribute “credible and true” to “the head of Scotland Yard” rather than to Detective Kenny McDonald, and misleadingly say that Beech had accused “the Prime Minister”, rather than former Prime Minister Edward Heath).

The fact that the Daily Mail and GB News are the primary sources here will likely embed the impression that Operation Midland is a concern mainly of “the right” – on the left, allegations against establishment figures and old Tory right-wingers enjoyed a presumption of credibilty due to confirmation bias that overrode natural scepticism about the police. However, Wright has also assembled a more generalised united front “panel of victims of police corruption, incompetence and malpractice” that includes Doreen Lawrence and Alastair Morgan.

Selectivity in holding the police accountable also works both ways – for instance, I don’t expect to see Jacob Rees-Mogg interviewing innocent people who were recently arrested ahead of the coronation of King Charles in order to create a bogus narrative about plots to disrupt the event.

The Daily Mail‘s “Nexus of Nick” graphic

The top left of the chart starts with Operation Midland, noting officers Alison Hepworth, Erik Sword, Diane Tudway and Kenny McDonald (“all later cleared of wrongdoing”), and Operation Vincente (a separate investigation into Leon Brittan), featuring James Townly (said to have called Beech “the real deal”), David Gray and Graham McNulty. These two groups then feed into Steve Rodhouse, who is linked in turn with NCA head Lynne Owens and former Met Chief Cressida Dick. She in turn links to her deputy Sir Stephen House (“attempted to keep her out of the firing line”) and two figures associated with the Met’s Professional Standards Department: Matthew Horne and Helen Ball (said to have “tried to minimise criticism of the Met”).

Moving across the top of the chart, we see former Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe (“Met chief when Operation Midland was launched”) and Theresa May, who at the time was Home Secretary. There’s also a direct line on the chart from Beech to May, which is pure sensationalism and is unexplained. May then links to three figures in the IOPC : Michael Lockwood, Jonathan Green and Kimberley Williams (“appointed ‘lead investigator’ of IOPC probe into Operation Midland despite inexperience”). Two furher officers are linked to Hogan-Howe: Patricia Gullan (“received briefings on both Operation Midland and Vincente”) and James Vaughan (“chief constable of Dorset Police controversially backed the Met’s decision to interview Lord Brittan under caution in Operation Vincente”).

Separate strands on “Media” feature the Exaro trio of Mark Conrad, Mark Watts and David Hencke, as well as Tom Symonds and Tom Bateman of the BBC (“Beech met Mr Symonds and Mr Bateman prior to the BBC running his story has headline news. Mr Symonds showed him images of other potential ‘victims’). Under these are listed the alleged “Victims”, a designation that is given quote marks, featuring Witness A and Witness B, as well as the Brittan accuser “Jane”. Then come “Watson’s VIP Abuse Informants”, comprising Mike Broad (“trade unionist” who “spread conspiracy theories about Lord Brittan”), Chris Fay and Peter McKelvie.

Finally, at bottom right come Tom Watson, and then under “Labour” Sadiq Khan, Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper. Starmer is included for his 2011 directive as Director of Public Prosecutions that “all victims should be believed”, but the justifications for including Khan and Cooper are weak and strained. We’re told only that “London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of being ‘uninterested’ in the Nick scandal… while Yvette Cooper, when chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, was reportedly reluctant to reopen an inquiry by MPs into Operation Midland”.

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