Operation Midland: Henriques Report

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:14 pm on 13th December 2016.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury 3:14 pm, 13th December 2016

As my right hon. Friend’s grandfather might have said, who was in charge of the clattering train? But it is not just about famous and well-known people. What about the teacher, the carer, the social worker, the fireman who are treated in this way? Blame lies not just with the misguided officers behind so many of the failures in Operation Midland. The climate was perpetrated by—I will name him—Mr Watson and others, who fostered a conspiracy theory culture around many of the investigations into the individuals.

The hon. Member for Rochdale was right to mention the loathsome people behind Exaro, the news website that put innocent people’s names in the public domain. It is hard to credit that the initial failures of the search and the delay in announcing that the inquiry had been dropped were compounded by the official letter Lord Bramall received, which was very churlish in its conclusions. It just said there was insufficient evidence to merit continuing the inquiry, and that further investigation could take place if more information came out. That was sent to a 90-year-old war veteran, with his dying wife in the house. What kind of mindset prevailed in the organisation?

I want never again to be ashamed of any action taken by the police force in any part of the country. I revere the police and firmly agree that they have a most difficult job; but the way things were done in the case I have outlined is deeply worrying to all of us who believe that fairness before the law is this country’s greatest virtue. I hope that the Minister will understand the strength of feeling that means he needs to hold the police force to account.