Hold page 17! Get through coverage of the Budget and you might find the odd reference to the fact that a trio of Scotland Yard officers in the vanguard of the infamous Operation Midland have all been cleared over their handling of the investigation into a nonexistent ‘VIP Paedophile Ring’ seen in visions by a deluded (though mysteriously unprosecuted) fantasist whom we must still refer to as ‘Nick’. Well, fancy that! That august body the Independent Police Complaints Commission has come to an utterly unexpected conclusion. Who could have seen that coming, eh?
Twelve months on from the closure of Operation Midland without a single arrest, charge or conviction, this breathtaking squandering of taxpayers’ money achieved nothing other than ruining both the reputations and financial security of those targeted by a bunch of blundering Bobbies whose instructions from on-high to believe the accuser at all costs resulted in the most high-profile case of what has become standard police practice. So standard, in fact, that the current series of hit ITV drama ‘Broadchurch’ apparently promotes this in-built belief that the accused is guilty and the accuser is innocent long before such an investigation even gets anywhere near a courtroom.
The three who were surprisingly exonerated by the IPCC included Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the dolt who preempted any possibility of a fair trial should it have come to that by declaring the accusations of ‘Nick’ were ‘credible and true’. DS McDonald evidently believes his role is not much different from that of Judge Dredd, futuristic super-cop who acts as judge, jury and executioner; and his belief has not been trashed by this judgement. Although the IPCC hearing, chaired by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, identified 43 serious failings in the Operation Midland investigation – including stating the bleedin’ obvious, that too much faith had been placed in the word of ‘Nick’ – it still declared the operation was ‘extensive and carried out diligently’.
Five Met officers were referred to the IPCC, yet the clearing of three of them suggests the other two haven’t got much to worry about. ‘There is no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty’, says the report, adding ‘and no indication any of the officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings’. One other area that gave the IPCC cause for concern was in regards to the detectives involved failing to present all relevant information to the district judge who gave the green light to the search warrants enabling them to kick down the doors of those named by ‘Nick’. That three of those whose homes were searched were named and shamed by the media during the investigation is apparently not thought shameful in itself.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse was also cleared of his part in a separate investigation into the involvement of the dying Leon Brittan in the same Paedo Ring, so that draws a line under a parallel farce. Even if the conclusions of the IPCC were utterly predictable and understandably regarded as a whitewash by those who suffered at the hands of the investigation (such as ex-MP Harvey Proctor), in a way one cannot hold the investigating officers wholly responsible for the disaster that was Operation Midland if the instructions they received vindicated the approach they took.
The ‘maverick cop’, that staple of British TV police dramas from Barlow in ‘Z-Cars’ and ‘Softly Softly’ through to Regan in ‘The Sweeney’ and Tennyson in ‘Prime Suspect’, no longer exists in the real world. If the police force in this country is inherently bent, it’s the natural outcome of the way in which that force is organised from the top on down rather than a Gene Hunt-style rogue cop making up his own rules. The politicised changes in procedure that declare an accused man (and, let’s face it, they’re basically always men) is guilty till proven innocent means the police have already been trained into making their minds up before an investigation even begins. Should it really come as a great surprise that the likes of Harvey Proctor are engulfed in smoke that couldn’t exist without any initial fire in the public perception when the rules have been rewritten to such a damaging degree where ancient British Law is concerned?
I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I’m absolutely bloody sick of this subject and part of me resents the fact I feel compelled to pen yet another post on it when so many others online put the work in and do it a hell of a lot better as a consequence. But it continues to represent so much of what has gone wrong with this country over the last fifteen-twenty years that any blog pertaining to deal with the great issues of the day cannot ignore it, however hard the temptation to do so truly is.
The fact is that the small army of bloggers and tweeters who follow the topic with a dedication that is admirable are in the minority. Most people don’t even give it much of a thought unless they themselves are on the receiving end of a false allegation and then a door is opened to them that had previously been barely ajar. And these are the people that are denied the platform to air their grievances that Harvey Proctor or Paul Gambaccini can call upon – the genuine silent majority who suffer the most when the finger of suspicion is aimed at them and they are at the mercy of a police force that has been politically remodelled to fit an agenda the police force was not created for. Peel must be turning in his grave.
© The Editor