Met Police 'does not know' cost of Midland abuse inquiry

New Scotland Yard sign Image copyright PA

The Metropolitan Police does not know how much was spent on one of its high-profile child sexual abuse investigations, it has told the BBC.

Scotland Yard said in March the full cost of Operation Midland would be published "in due course", but it now says the figures are not available.

There was also no estimate, it said.

The inquiry investigated historical claims of sexual abuse and murder made against establishment figures and closed in March without charges.

Among those accused were former armed forces chief Lord Bramall and former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor. Both men denied the allegations and have criticised the way police handled the case, with Mr Proctor saying the inquiry had "irreparably ruined [his] life".

Twenty-seven detectives and six civilian staff worked on the operation.

'No record'

In a statement announcing the closure of Operation Midland earlier this year, the Met said "the final cost will be published in due course."

A Freedom of Information request made in November 2015 revealed the investigation had cost £1.8m up to that point.

However, in response to another Freedom of Information request by the BBC, the Met said it did not hold the relevant information.

A "cost code", which records spending on individual operations, was never allocated to the inquiry, the Met said, making it impossible to work out exactly what was spent.

It said that as staff do not record details of their duties, there will "be no record of the time" that officers spent on the operation.

The Met said: "The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] cannot accordingly, provide the cost of the Operation Midland investigation (estimated or otherwise) as it is not held by the MPS."

Scotland Yard said it will publish - at an unspecified date - the cost of an umbrella operation, codenamed Winter Key, that oversees the force's various investigations into historical allegations involving institutions or people of public prominence.

Further details disclosed to the BBC revealed the scale of the 18-month Midland inquiry:

  • 11 complainants were interviewed by the investigation, three of whom related "directly to Operation Midland".
  • 159 people provided witness statements.
  • 630 exhibits were seized.
  • Detectives travelled as far as Australia in the course of their inquiries.
  • Three investigations into possible historical impropriety by Met Police officers came from information generated by Midland.

Retired judge Sir Richard Henriques is conducting a review of Operation Midland, on behalf of Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, which is expected to conclude in the autumn.

What was Operation Midland?

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Established in November 2014, Operation Midland was set up to examine historical claims of a Westminster VIP paedophile ring, with allegations boys were abused by a group of powerful men from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies.

The inquiry was also intended to examine claims that three boys were murdered during the alleged ring's activities. Operation Midland related to locations across southern England and in London in the 1970s and 1980s, and focused on the private Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico, south-west London.

Historical child abuse: Key investigations

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