Thank you, Chair. Thank you for your question. Operation Midland was started in November 2014 and was closed in March 2016. The impact of Carl Beech’s false allegations and the subsequent Operation Midland investigation has been truly dreadful for those who were accused and their families. It is absolutely right that Carl Beech has been held to account and is facing justice for his actions.
The then Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM, apologised in person to those affected and the MPS has expressed deep regret for what happened. In February 2016 the MPS commissioned retired High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques to undertake a review of Operation Midland to learn lessons about the handling of the investigation. That was the right thing to do as clearly a number of serious errors were made. The MPS has already enacted the majority of Sir Richard’s recommendations and MOPAC has been working closely with it to ensure lessons have been learnt. It is also right that the MPS is going to publish as full a version of the Henriques Report as possible so there can be no doubt about the analysis of the failings. I have been assured this will be done as quickly as possible.
As a result of Sir Richard’s report the MPS voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). This referral included applications for search warrants. The MPS fully co‑operated with the independent investigation that lasted more than two years. It examined all the evidence and did not identify any criminal offence of misconduct. The IPCC was the appropriate body to conduct this investigation. The IOPC has recently completed its investigation and has said it will publish its report this month. The MPS is committed to ensuring that any further lessons from the report will be taken on board and implemented.
Steve O’Connell AM: Thank you very much, Mr Mayor, for your full response. It was only last week in this Chamber that the Police and Crime Committee had an exchange with the Deputy Commissioner on this subject. I raise this with you particularly because of your role of being responsible for holding the MPS to account. I know the investigations were launched pre your mayoralty but you still have that responsibility.
The investigation itself cost - the costs are still rising upwards - £4 million. We talked about the police budget and what could be done with that sort of money. We also know the reputations of public figures with a lifetime of public service were trashed as a result of that investigation. Mr Mayor, do you believe the MPS has learnt the lessons and what we have seen will not be repeated? Are you satisfied with the investigation?
When you see the impact on some of the innocent people affected and their families it is heart breaking and I also apologise to them as well. I hope the lessons are learnt. The honest answer is I cannot say for sure until we have an example where the public can be reassured the right lessons have been learnt and the proof will be in the pudding. I am reassured we are doing what we can to hold the MPS to account. I am reassured that the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner understand the seriousness of the lessons that are to be learnt and we have to make sure that all of us - the Police and Crime Committee, myself as the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime as well - do what we can to make sure the right lessons are learnt.
Steve O’Connell AM: Mr Mayor, there was a catastrophic failure of performance. You are here to hold the performance of the MPS to account. This is not about a witch hunt against frontline officers because there has been enough of a witch hunt around the whole [Carl] Beech affair. I believe this is about controls, checks and supervision above that, which was commented on last week in the Police and Crime Committee. It is a breakdown in the controls, checks and supervision of officers dealing with these affairs.
The Henriques Review that you refer to has not yet been published in unredacted form. The author of that Report himself said there is no reason why it should be unredacted. Would you like to comment briefly on those two points?
My understanding is that the police will share the report with the families and their representatives and it is in their hands in relation to what is redacted and what is not. They may well ask, not because they have anything to hide but because of some of the nature of the allegations that are really not very nice ‑‑
Hold on, Chair. That is inappropriate, Chair. Let us be quite clear, an allegation was made which was investigated by the police. The police made mistakes that were investigated by the IPCC, the IOPC and now a retired High Court Judge. For the Assembly Member to bring in others who brought the complaints to the attention of police to try cast aspersion I think is inappropriate. On reflection ‑‑
Steve O’Connell AM: That is a comment of fact but let us put that to one side. My final point is will you be continuing to take an interest in this investigation? The cost is running to the public purse. There are still structures that need to be looked at. Will you continue to take an interest in this investigation?