UK

Metropolitan Police 'regrets Lord Bramall's distress' over abuse inquiry

Lord Bramall Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Bramall said there was not a "grain of truth" in the allegations

The Metropolitan Police has told Lord Bramall it regrets the "distress" caused to him during its inquiry into historical child abuse allegations.

But Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan stopped short of apologising, citing a police duty to investigate.

Former Army head Lord Bramall was interviewed last April and told last week that he faced no further action.

The peer, aged 92, said the Met's statement was "a long justification of their actions".

"If that's what they want to put out it's not for me to comment," he said, adding it was "up to the public to think whether it is convincing or not".

He told the BBC it was wrong that news of his questioning had been released by Scotland Yard even though the force described him only as a "91-year-old man living near Farnham".

Lord Bramall, a Normandy veteran who retired from the House of Lords in 2013, was never arrested and always denied the allegations.

After being cleared, he told the BBC there wasn't "one grain of truth" in the allegations, made against him by a man in his 40s, and accused the police of not behaving very well.

Friends said Lord Bramall's late wife, who had Alzheimer's, was at home when police officers "barged" into the house.

'Appalling'

In the statement, Ms Gallan said she fully recognised how unpleasant it would be to be investigated by the police over historical abuse allegations.

"For a person to have their innocence publicly called into question must be appalling," she said.

She said she was taking the unusual step of explaining the dilemmas of policing after the possibility of an apology was raised.

"We have many serious allegations referred to us every year that we have a duty to investigate," she wrote.

"It is, of course, a principle of British justice that everyone is equal before the law so that duty must apply equally to all, irrespective of their status or social standing.

"The fact that after a full and impartial investigation the evidence did not support charges being laid does not suggest that an allegation should not have been investigated."

She added that the inquiry into the allegations continued until all lines of enquiry had been examined.

D-Day landings

"The Metropolitan Police accepts absolutely that we should apologise when we get things wrong, and we have not shrunk from doing so.

"However, if we were to apologise whenever we investigated allegations that did not lead to a charge, we believe this would have a harmful impact on the judgements made by officers and on the confidence of the public."

Ms Gallan said she would meet Lord Bramall to explain the force's conduct at the end of Operation Midland, a wider police investigation into historical abuse claims.

Lord Bramall said he welcomed "enormously" the offer of a meeting but now wanted "the whole thing to die down".

Lord Bramall served during the D-Day landings during World War Two and commanded UK land forces between 1976 and 1978.

He became chief of the general staff - the professional head of the Army - in 1979, and in 1982 he oversaw the Falklands campaign.

Later that year he became chief of the defence staff, the most senior officer commanding the UK's armed forces.

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