Carl Beech: Judge suggests he was 'misled' over VIP abuse search warrants

Related Topics
image copyrightPA Media
image captionHoward Riddle said he had "complete confidence" in a review that found he was "misled" by police

A judge who granted search warrants in the Met's discredited VIP paedophile inquiry has agreed with a report that concluded he was "misled" by police.

Six warrants were granted by Howard Riddle in 2015 for Operation Midland following false claims by Carl Beech.

Mr Riddle said he agreed with a review that found he would never have granted the warrants if he had been given all of the information available.

A police watchdog previously cleared the officers involved.

The Metropolitan Police Service spent £2.5m investigating claims made by Beech - who was later jailed for his lies - after publicly saying they were "credible and true".

In his review of the investigation, retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques said searches of the homes of three public figures "should not have taken place".

Sir Richard's report - published in largely unredacted form on Friday - found detectives had "misled" Mr Riddle and the search warrants were obtained "unlawfully".

Responding to the report, Mr Riddle said Sir Richard had identified a number of factors that undermined the case for warrants being issued "that should have been drawn to my attention, but were not".

He added: "Had they been, the report states, 'it is inconceivable…that any application for a warrant would have been granted'.

"The conclusion is that the search warrants were obtained unlawfully.

"I have complete confidence in his report and its conclusions."

media captionCressida Dick reacts to the report

The Met chose not to respond to Mr Riddle's statement but Commissioner Cressida Dick has spoken about the issues raised in the original report.

image copyrightGloucestershire Police
image captionCarl Beech was jailed for 18 years after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice, fraud and child sexual offences

Operation Midland began when Beech, 51, made false allegations of sexual abuse and murder about a group of MPs, generals and senior figures in the intelligence services during the 1970s and 1980s.

The investigation closed without any arrests being made, and Beech, who had been known as "Nick" for the duration of the police probe, was subsequently jailed for 18 years for his lies.

media captionThe Met's deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House says he is "deeply sorry for mistakes made"

A report by the police watchdog - separate to Sir Richard's - previously examined the role of three detectives in applying for search warrants, but did not look into Operation Midland as a whole.

In July, the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) announced it had cleared the officers, prompting criticism from Sir Richard, who said a criminal investigation should take place.

Ex-MP Harvey Proctor - one of those who was wrongly accused - said the police watchdog's report was "a whitewash" and "a pathetic attempt" to excuse mistakes by police.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered an inspection of how the Met has responded to the recommendations made by Sir Richard and the IOPC.

Last week, Ms Patel wrote to the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, asking him to examine the police probe.

In her letter, she said: "It is imperative that the public receive assurance that the MPS has learned from the mistakes identified in Sir Richard's report and have made - and continue to make - necessary improvements."

More on this story