IPCC announces further 12 investigations into allegations of corruption in Met police – bringing total to 30 inquiries
The police watchdog is to broaden its investigation into claims Scotland Yard covered up a network of high-profile paedophiles dating back to the 1970s, after a significant increase in allegations made by retired officers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is examining 30 allegations of police corruption in the handling of child abuse claims, including allegations that special branch and senior police officers intervened to block investigations into VIPs and politicians.
The IPCC announced 12 more investigations into the Metropolitan police’s handling of abuse claims on Wednesday, adding to 17 that were announced earlier this year. Another allegation has been made against Essex police, bringing the total to 30.
The majority of the investigations stem from allegations made by retired Met officers, the watchdog said. Among the new investigations, one concerns allegations that a prosecution against a government official over child sexual abuse images was dropped on the instructions of senior officers and lawyers.
Another concerns allegations that high-ranking officers prematurely shut down an investigation into a south-west London paedophile ring in the 1970s.
A separate investigation has been launched into claims that an MP was arrested and then released without charge following an inquiry into a south London paedophile ring in the 80s. It is alleged that officers were threatened with breaking the Official Secrets Act if they spoke of the events.
The investigations are to be conducted by the internal professional standards departments at the Met and the Essex force but will be overseen by the IPCC. However, Scotland Yard revealed a further 18 allegations have been referred to the police watchdog and the force is waiting on a decision.
“We would encourage anyone who has information or knowledge of how these historical cases were investigated to come forward and assist with the investigations,” a spokeswoman for the Met said.
Among the most recent wave of allegations to be looked at by the IPCC is that evidence relating to child abuse at a youth club in the 1980s and 90s that involved politicians and council officers went missing from a London police station.
Another claim alleges that an MP was charged with specimen child sex offences and not more numerous or serious offences. It has also been alleged that special branch made attempts in the 70s to interfere in an investigation that would have revealed an MP’s involvement in child sex offences.
A further claim contends that an allegation of child sex abuse in central London in the 80s was halted when it became apparent that an MP was involved.
Other allegations referred to the watchdog in March arose during Operation Fairbank, Scotland Yard’s investigation into allegations that establishment figures abused children at Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, during the 70s and 80s.
Investigators are also examining claims that Essex police failed to examine intelligence provided by a witness that an MP was involved in child sexual abuse.
Separately, the future of Operation Midland, Scotland Yard’s investigation into an alleged ring of high-profile paedophiles, is in the balance. The force is considering the findings of a review of the inquiry, and there have been reports that the evidence of its key witness may be in doubt.
The operation was set up by the Met nearly a year ago to examine claims that boys were systematically abused in the 70s and 80s by figures from politics, the military and security services at locations across southern England, including the Dolphin Square estate in south-west London.
Detectives have faced calls to shelve Midland, which is based on the testimony of one witness, known only as Nick, once described by police as “credible and true”. Recent reports have suggested faith in his evidence has weakened.
It has now emerged that Scotland Yard launched a review of Midland in April. The review concluded at the end of last month and the findings are now being considered.
A Met spokesman said: “An internal review of Operation Midland was commissioned on 8 April 2015. It is routine for investigations of this nature to be reviewed in this way. The review was carried out, with the full report submitted on 25 August. The product of this review is under consideration.
“We are not prepared to comment on the review in any detail at this time as Midland is an ongoing investigation.”
On Tuesday, Ken Macdonald QC, the former director of public prosecutions, said detectives investigating historical child abuse allegations should not indulge “narcissists and fantasists”.
Nigel Evans MP, the former Commons deputy speaker who was acquitted of rape and sexual assault charges last year, criticised police for playing “judge and jury” over Nick’s allegations before the investigation had concluded.
Nick’s claims formed part of the allegations put to Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP, during a police interview. At a press conference last month Proctor said he was completely innocent and accused police of a witch-hunt against homosexuals.
He disclosed that he had been questioned about his alleged involvement in a paedophile ring with the former prime minister Edward Heath and the former home secretary Leon Brittan.
Nick has claimed MPs and other high-profile figures were linked to the alleged murder of three children aged seven to 16 between the mid-70s and mid-80s, including that of a child who was run down by a car.
At a press conference last year, DS Kenny McDonald, who heads up Operation Midland, said he believed Nick’s evidence to be “credible and true”. But McDonald in recent weeks has faced criticism for having expressed this view, and the police force is now reportedly unprepared to back the testimony in such certain terms.
Police watchdog expands inquiry into alleged cover-up of paedophile network Jamie Grierson and Josh Halliday 17 September 2015