Operation Midland: Police officers cleared over handling of VIP paedophile ring claims

Controversial investigation saw raids on the homes of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall; late former home secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor

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Three senior Scotland Yard officers have been cleared over their handling of allegations at the centre of an investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring, the police watchdog said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that Operation Midland, which looked into claims by complainant "Nick", was "extensive and carried out diligently" by a deputy assistant commissioner, a detective superintendent and a detective chief inspector.

There was no evidence to indicate "bad faith, malice or dishonesty" by the officers, the watchdog said.

However, the detective chief inspector and two junior detectives will be investigated over allegations they may have misled a district judge in order to obtain search warrants during the 16-month probe.

It follows a damning review of the probe by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who found there had been "numerous errors" in the disastrous inquiry, and that the sole alleged victim had been too readily believed.

Scotland Yard faced a storm of criticism over the £2.5m Operation Midland, which closed last year without a single arrest.

The controversial investigation saw raids on the homes of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall; late former home secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor after Nick made a series of lurid claims including three murders.

Carl Gumsley, IPCC Commissioner, said: "The allegation that incomplete information may have been provided to a district judge when applying for search warrants is serious and the IPCC will thoroughly investigate this matter.

"However, a thorough assessment into the other matters that were referred to the IPCC has been carried out.

"After considering the information resulting from that assessment, I am of the opinion that there is no indication that these matters would amount to behaviour which would justify disciplinary proceedings.

"Consequently, I have taken the early decision to discontinue the independent investigation into those matters."

Scotland Yard had also referred the conduct of the deputy assistant commissioner relating to allegations that an investigation into Lord Brittan was extended without good reason.

But the IPCC said this aspect of the investigation had also been discontinued, as well as a probe into "irregularities" in the seizure of exhibits from searched properties.

Mr Gumsley said: "In coming to that conclusion I have been very conscious of the fact that the force has already acknowledged its shortcomings in the investigation into the late Lord Brittan and has apologised to Lady Brittan.

"It is also important to acknowledge the climate in which Operation Midland and the investigation into Lord Brittan were being undertaken.

"At this time there was much concern that cover-ups by the 'establishment' had taken place and there was widespread intense scrutiny on both investigations.

"The way both investigations were conducted should be considered in that context and in line with policies which existed at that time."

Fiona Taylor, assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, said the force was "not afraid to learn lessons" following Sir Richard's review and had referred officers so an independent assessment of their conduct could be made.

"We believed that was important for the confidence of the complainants and indeed for our own officers, given the significance of these issues," she said.

"Whilst the Met is clear we did not get everything right, the IPCC has found no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty on the part of the officers as they investigated the allegations made by 'Nick'.

"The IPCC also state that the information available to them indicates the investigation was extensive and carried out diligently.

"This work was carried out against a backdrop of intense scrutiny and allegations that in the past the Met had covered up sensitive allegations about prominent people."