|Harvey Proctor: will face no further action|
Fourteen months after a senior officer described a key witness to the supposed killings as being ‘credible and true’, the Metropolitan Police are on the brink of making a humiliating climb-down.
An official statement announcing the end of the Operation Midland inquiry, launched after sensational claims by a man known as Nick, is set to be made in the coming days.
Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, accused of being part of a murderous gang of VIP paedophiles including ex-prime minister Edward Heath and ex-home secretary Leon Brittan, will be formally told he will face no further action over the allegations.
Last month the Met told former Army chief Lord Bramall, 92, that he would face no charges over Nick’s claims that he was abused by him more than 30 years ago.
The case against the field marshal was so weak that the Met did not even ask Crown lawyers to consider prosecuting the ‘hounded’ D-Day hero.
His home was searched by more than 20 officers in front of his dying wife in March last year.
Lord Bramall was later interviewed under caution over the allegations which he denied robustly. Scotland Yard tried to bury news that he would not be charged by releasing a statement that he had been cleared at 8.27pm on a Friday last month.
The shameful end of Operation Midland is a major embarrassment to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who has been widely criticised over his refusal to apologise for his officers’ treatment of Lord Bramall.
It is understood that he and his advisers have spent days preparing a long statement and public relations strategy explaining the importance of taking Nick’s allegations so seriously in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
But sources close to Operation Midland have described the investigation as a ‘shambles’ driven by ‘back covering Yard chiefs’ keen not to be accused of covering up alleged Establishment child sex crimes – however ridiculous the claims may seem to be.
Nick, whose real name cannot be revealed for legal reasons, claimed to have witnessed the ritualistic murder of three boys by a gang including Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, the former heads of the Army, MI5 and MI6, and Mr Proctor in the 1970s and 1980s.
|Cleared: Lord Bramall was cleared last month after he was interviewed under caution over the allegations that he abused witness 'Nick' more than 30 years ago|
The Met will now come under intense pressure to investigate Nick, who is in his 40s, for attempting to pervert the course of justice and wasting police time. Mr Proctor’s lawyers have asked the force to do this.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is on standby to investigate any allegations of misconduct relating to the £2million fiasco.
The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee is planning to call Sir Bernard and his senior officers to answer questions about the bungled investigation.
BBC News and the controversial news website Exaro – which publicised Nick’s incredible claim in late 2014, before he went to police – are expected to face tough questions about their role in the scandal.
The cracks in Nick’s story – and Operation Midland – were first revealed by the Daily Mail last September when it emerged that officers had ‘grave doubts’ about his testimony and believed he was a ‘Walter Mitty’ fantasist who had made up his story of VIP abuse and murder.
Sources said there was ‘not a shred of evidence’ to corroborate Nick’s allegations. Before making contact with police over his VIP murder claims, Nick told a TV documentary that he was a victim of Jimmy Savile.
I was always curious why other abused boys didn't pop-up to support his claims.
Lord Brittan’s widow received an apology from the Met for its handling of a separate false rape allegation made against him by a mentally-ill Labour activist known as ‘Jane’.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, also apologised to Lady Brittan for making baseless paedophile allegations against her husband, who died with the rape lies hanging over his head.
Last week Home Secretary Theresa May faced calls to block a contract extension for Sir Bernard until he had apologised to Lord Bramall and faced a committee of MPs over the fiasco.
Sir Bernard’s five-year contract is due to end this September and he is keen to stay on an extra three years. London Mayor Boris Johnson has recommended he should get just an extra 12 months in charge but Mrs May is said to want a longer contract for her ‘favourite cop’.
Mr Proctor claimed last month that Sir Bernard is seeking to postpone the collapse of Operation Midland until he has secured an extension of his contract.