The fundamental principle of our justice system is innocent until proven guilty—a principle undermined over the past decade when the rules of police forces were amended, particularly after the Jimmy Savile scandal. The entirely understandable aim of those changes was to increase the conviction rate for sexual offences, but that has been a complete failure, with conviction rates for sex crimes having dropped dramatically in the last five years.
The price that has been paid in terms of reputational damage and ruined lives has been enormous. High-profile figures investigated under Operation Midland have had their reputations disgracefully and unjustly tarnished. The IOPC, whose report was published this morning, has failed miserably to identify the Met’s failures, identify the culpable people or resolve the issues.
However, it is not just the Met. Other police forces across the country follow policy guidelines, automatically believing all allegations brought by complainants, and therefore disbelieving the defendants. This has damaged the reputations of Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini, Jim Davidson, my hon. Friend Mr Evans and many other, less well-known defendants. Will HMIC therefore review not just Operation Midland, but the judicial and policing rules and procedures covering all such cases, so that we get justice for victims and protection for the innocent?