Never again: Police face curbs on raiding homes to prevent a repeat of Lord Bramall and Leon Brittan fiasco sparked by Carl Beech’s false claims of a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster
- Disastrous Operation Midland saw war heroes and politicians’ homes raided
- The rules have been tightened to end the abuse of the search warrant system
- Under new procedures senior officers will have to declare that detectives have assured them the reasons given for a raid are genuine
- It is hoped the added demands on authorising officers will stop any more cases of judges agreeing to unjustified searches of innocent people’s homes
- The warrant overhaul is a significant victory for the Mail, which led the way in exposing the scandal surrounding the Met’s disastrous VIP paedophile inquiry
Police wanting to raid a suspect’s home must now clear significant extra hurdles in an attempt to avoid a repeat of Scotland Yard’s VIP child sex abuse scandal.
In a major victory for the Daily Mail, rules have been tightened up to end the abuse of the search warrant system that led to war heroes and politicians wrongly having their homes turned upside down.
Under the new procedures – which have just been approved by law chiefs – senior officers will have to declare that detectives have assured them the reasons given for a raid are genuine.
They must also confirm that there is no evidence being hidden that would undermine the application for a warrant.
It is hoped that the added demands on authorising officers will stop any more cases of judges agreeing to unjustified searches of innocent people’s homes.
The warrant overhaul is a significant victory for the Mail, which has led the way in exposing the scandal surrounding the Met’s disastrous VIP paedophile inquiry, Operation Midland.
Nick Bramall with his father Lord Bramall and his mother Avril in 2000. The home of Field Marshal Lord Bramall was raided by police investigating Operation Midland
Former deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson. Retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques report into Operation Midland found he had put pressure on detectives investigating the alleged paedophile ring
The inquiry was based on the testimony of ‘Nick’, real name Carl Beech, who claimed he was the victim of an Establishment paedophile ring.
His claims led to officers raiding the homes of D-Day hero Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the widow of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
However, Beech was later exposed as a serial liar and jailed for 18 years for a string of offences.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has since ordered an inquiry into the Met’s response to the case by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, MPs have announced an inquiry into the running of the police watchdog following its ‘whitewash’ inquiry, and the conduct of current Met chief Dame Cressida Dick – who sanctioned Midland – has been referred to police watchdogs.
Now the system for applying for search warrants, at the centre of the Nick scandal, is being overhauled.
Daniel Janner QC, founder and secretary of the pressure group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform welcomed the decision to improve procedures.
The group’s supporters include Sir Cliff Richard and BBC broadcaster Paul Gambaccini – whose reputations were shattered by bogus sex claims in other cases.
He said: ‘This is an important development to ensure the law is tightened up so that judges are not misled by over-enthusiastic and often blinkered detectives, as was the case in Operation Midland.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has since ordered an inquiry into the Met’s response to the Carl Beech (right) case that saw the homes of war heroes and politicians (including Leon Brittan, left) turned upside down
D-Day hero Field Marshal Lord Bramall was named in the inquiry based on testimony of ‘Nick’, real name Carl Beech, who claimed he was the victim of an Establishment paedophile ring
‘Judges have a duty to interrogate the information provided to them by police and police have a duty to provide accurate details about the evidence they possess.’ He said ‘a man’s home is his castle’ which should only be intruded on by ‘police in a lawful and proportionate way’.
Mr Proctor said of the search warrant crackdown: ‘This is a positive development but I would call for even stricter rules. The system for making search warrant applications should be more transparent, including transcripts of what is said in court by officers seeking to raid someone’s home.’
The search warrant system came under scrutiny after a devastating review into the £2.5million Midland operation, by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, identified 43 major errors and found that the warrants had been ‘obtained unlawfully’.
In a bombshell article in the Daily Mail last July, he said justice had been perverted and called for a criminal investigation into the conduct of a number of former Met officers.
Sir Richard said senior district judge Howard Riddle, who approved the search applications, had been misled because there were several factors which undermined Beech’s account of abuse.
Last October, Mr Riddle said he believed he had been misled into granting the search warrants. The police watchdog cleared ex Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, who oversaw the debacle, of misconduct in a report branded a whitewash.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve House speaking to the media outside New Scotland Yard following the release of parts of a review into the 16-month long Operation Midland last October
But the Independent Office for Police Conduct did recommend that the process for obtaining search warrants be improved.
As a result, a little-known but powerful body called the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee has now approved important changes to the application forms.
Authorising officers will no longer simply agree: ‘I have reviewed this application and I authorise the applicant to make it.’
Instead, they must now confirm that as well as having read the reasons for the raid, they ‘have been assured by the applicant’ that the declaration of the reasons for the warrant ‘is true’.
And they must also declare ‘to the best of my own knowledge, information and belief the application discloses all the information that is material … including anything that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of the application’.
Further changes to the forms are expected following the ‘imminent’ publication of a report by the Law Commission into search warrants, so the steps agreed by the CPRC are on hold temporarily. Both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.
÷The controversial Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is on course to cost more than £150million. Latest figures show it had cost £118.25million by last September but hearings are due to continue for the rest of the year.
BUNGLING MET RUINED MY WAR HERO DAD’S LIFE
Nick Bramall, the son of the late Lord Bramall
The appalling ordeal suffered by Lord Bramall when bungling Operation Midland officers raided his home over Carl Beech’s lies was laid bare by his son in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Nicolas Bramall, 67, said: ‘His last four years should have been years of quiet reflection but they were anything but. He became less secure about himself.
‘He’d say ‘I’m not a bad chap am I?’ To be accused of such heinous crimes as rape and torture, with no evidence at all… I don’t think he ever got his head round how the Metropolitan Police behaved.
‘Dad always thought he’d led a charmed life but that ended in March 2015 when officers turned up at his home. Not just a couple of officers, but more than 20 and, of course, Dad had no idea what it was about.
‘All he was told was there had been a complaint about him by one man 40 years ago. They left it for three months before he was interviewed.’
Lord Bramall, the D-Day hero and former head of the Armed Forces who died aged 95 in November, said in his last newspaper interview in July that he believed police should have been prosecuted over Beech’s lies. His son told the Daily Mail: ‘Since Dad has died I’ve just felt more and more angry.
‘I find it deplorable that, not only has no one said ‘we’ve got this spectacularly wrong,’ but, everyone involved has either been promoted, ennobled or pensioned off. In any other field if you made a mess up of these proportions you’d have to be held accountable, wouldn’t you?’
Lord Bramall’s home was turned upside down when detectives carried out a dawn raid over claims he had abused Beech as a child.
Lord Bramall was caring for his wife of 66 years, Avril, who had Alzheimer’s, when police ransacked their home. She kept asking what she’d done as she was shunted from room to room.
‘Don’t the police have people who are trained to say, ‘what do you think of this chap? Is he telling the truth?’ before they go barging into someone’s home?’ asked Mr Bramall, whose mother died shortly after that intrusion.
‘The police were so seduced by the idea of a high-level paedophile ring they wanted it to be true.
‘Dad did not blame Carl Beech. He blamed the Met entirely for being so stupid as to believe him.’
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