My hon. Friend makes a very important point and it is one that I intend to address in some detail in a moment.
Not content with making these serious charges against Harvey, Nick suggested that there was a paedophile ring operating in Westminster, accusations that Mr Watson, who is the deputy leader of the Labour party, was keen to exploit as a Tory scandal and for which he should now offer a full and unreserved apology.
Harvey had staying with him in his house a couple and their newborn child. He was told two weeks before the search of his house by the Metropolitan police that that child should be removed for their own safety, and secret sessions between the Leicestershire police, Leicestershire social services and the duke’s representatives were convened when pressure was placed on the duke and duchess to sack Harvey from his employment after the search of his house. Leicestershire constabulary and the Met passed responsibility for this issue to each other, backwards and forwards, but it happened.
What are the charges against the Metropolitan police and the other forces involved? First, it is that they adopted a policy that the accusations were, in the words of Superintendent Kenny McDonald, “credible and true”. Gone was any pretence of old-fashioned policing—looking dispassionately at the evidence and seeing where it leads.
This is where we are assisted by the excellent report produced by Sir Richard Henriques, a former High Court judge; admittedly, that report was at the specific request of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police. What Sir Richard found was that the Chief Constable of Norfolk, Simon Bailey, who I understand leads for the Association of Chief Police Officers on child protection and abuse investigation, produced guidance in November 2015 that insisted that complainants should be described as victims. He wrote:
“If we don’t acknowledge a victim as such, it reinforces a system based on distrust and disbelief.”
“The police service”— please note the reference to the police service, not the police force—
“is the conduit that links the victim to the rest of the criminal justice system;
there is a need to develop a relationship and rapport with a victim…in order to achieve the best evidence possible.”
That is the point made by my hon. Friend Sir Henry Bellingham.