There are “outstanding questions” over the Metropolitan Police’s botched VIP child sex abuse probe, the Home Secretary has said.
Priti Patel vowed to “ask further questions” over Scotland Yard’s disastrous Operation Midland amid calls for an inquiry into the conduct of the investigation.
Former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques heavily criticised the bungled inquiry into false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring in Westminster in a 2016 report, which identified 43 police failings.
The force was also met with criticism for waiting three years before acting on his recommendations, with Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor finding bosses were more concerned with “restricting access” to the report.
But the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog found no evidence of misconduct or criminality by the officers during the operation – which was branded a “whitewash” by some victims.
Ms Patel said she intended to respond to a letter from Sir Richard, also telling the Commons Home Affairs Committee: “I would like to meet with Sir Richard Henriques, primarily to understand the processes, what has happened, what went wrong.”
Former home secretary Leon Brittan was one of the men falsely accused by fantasist Carl Beech – then known as “Nick” – who died in January 2015 without knowing there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.
His home was raided, along with those of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, before it emerged that all the claims were based on lies by Beech, who was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the course of justice.
The calls for an inquiry have now been backed by senior district judge Howard Riddle, who granted the contentious search warrants for the probe.
Asked by committee member Tim Loughton if she “will not rest” until further investigations have taken place to see if there really was “corruption at the highest level” and “whether people should still be in positions of authority that some of them are”, Ms Patel replied: “There are outstanding questions.
“I think I do definitely need to ask some further questions in terms of what has happened.”
The Met insisted there was “no cover-up” in the investigation after confidence in Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was called into question.
Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House apologised again for failings made by the force after political aides maintained that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary had “absolute confidence” in the UK’s most senior police officer.
It came after Ms Patel declined to express her confidence in Dame Cressida when questioned over Operation Midland during a live radio interview.
Asked about this at the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday, Dame Cressida said: “The Home Secretary, through the Home Office, immediately after the interview, gave her full confidence in me and … so did the Prime Minister, and so did the mayor.
“I have nothing else to say, except I am focused on my job, I’m getting on with it, and I will continue, amongst other things, I know, to have very productive working relationships with all the aforementioned people.”
She added that she loves her job and, while the Met faces challenges, it is “doing brilliantly”.