Pressure grows on Labour MP Yvette Cooper to launch home affairs select committee probe into police handling of VIP paedophile claims by fantasist ‘Nick’
- Yvette Cooper refused to commit to investigating bungled VIP child abuse case
- Miss Cooper said: ‘We will have to talk about it. There may be different views’
- This follows Sir Richard Henriques suggestion police may have broken the law
- His intervention has triggered demands for: an independent criminal inquiry
The Labour chairman of a Commons committee was last night under pressure to launch an investigation into the bungled VIP child abuse inquiry.
Yvette Cooper yesterday refused to commit to investigating Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland in the wake of this week’s explosive intervention by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques.
But Tory MPs on the home affairs committee that she leads said ‘natural justice’ demanded it should begin an investigation to find out what went wrong.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Sir Richard suggested detectives on Midland, which probed the claims of the fantasist ‘Nick’, had used false evidence to obtain warrants to raid the homes of Harvey Proctor, former Armed Forces chief Lord Bramall and ex-home secretary Leon Brittan. He suggested police may have broken the law.
The Labour chairman of a Commons committee Yvette Cooper (pictured) refused to commit to investigating Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland in the wake of this week’s explosive intervention by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques
His intervention has triggered demands for: an independent criminal inquiry; for Scotland Yard to publish Sir Richard’s original report in full; and for police watchdogs to look again at the issue.
Yesterday MPs suggested the home affairs committee should get involved and launch a parliamentary inquiry as well as question Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I have no doubt that the home affairs committee will probably want to look at this affair in some detail and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner will have to appear and answer for the force.’
Under a previous chairman, the committee questioned Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who has been accused of creating a ‘moral panic’ around alleged Establishment sex abuse.
But that probe took place before Nick – real name Carl Beech – was jailed for 18 years for his bogus claims of child rape and murder.
Committee member and ex-minister Tim Loughton said: ‘It was clear from an earlier inquiry when the committee took evidence from Tom Watson and senior Met officers … that police action was not evidence based.
Retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques (pictured) suggested detectives on Operation Midland used false evidence to obtain warrants to raid the homes of Harvey Proctor, Lord Bramall and ex-home secretary Leon Brittan. He suggested police may have broken the law
‘It is absolutely right that politicians and other high-profile public figures should be investigated when allegations are made but they should be subject to no less a level of natural justice than anyone else.
‘Vulnerable public figures were hounded by poor policing and sensationalist journalism ramped up by headline-seeking politicians who should have known better.’
But that probe took place before Nick – real name Carl Beech (pictured) – was jailed for 18 years for his bogus claims of child rape and murder
Another committee member, Sir Christopher Chope, said: ‘Is this an issue of sufficient significance that the committee should be discussing it and conducting an inquiry? Absolutely yes.’ He suggested the terms of the inquiry could be widened to look at the ‘pressure’ put on prosecutors to investigate.
Former first secretary of state Damian Green said: ‘It’s clearly an issue of significant public interest that an important select committee should look at.’
And senior Tory backbencher Nigel Evans said the committee should examine Mr Watson’s role.
‘Yvette Cooper should be campaigning for full disclosure and whoever is damaged by this so be it,’ he added. ‘There are too many people who have been hurt by this and hurt badly and they deserve justice.’
But Miss Cooper said she wanted to speak to other committee members before making a decision. ‘I can’t speak for the committee at this time. We will have to talk about it. There may be different views,’ she added.
On Monday the Independent Office for Police Conduct rejected Sir Richard’s allegations and insisted it had conducted a ‘careful assessment’ of the allegations in which ‘no suspicion of criminality was identified’.
The watchdog cleared three Met officers of wrongdoing in its lengthy inquiry.