Operation Midland: Henriques Report

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:20 pm on 13th December 2016.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 3:20 pm, 13th December 2016

I congratulate my hon. Friend Sir Gerald Howarth on his powerful speech. I entirely agree with everything that was said by my right hon. Friend Sir Nicholas Soames. He was absolutely right when he focused on the issue of common sense. I should not want to be a police officer, and no doubt a police officer would not want to be a politician; but Operation Midland is not the police’s finest hour.

I think that there are five colleagues present in the Chamber who have been in this place since the time when those who were accused were parliamentarians; so most of us knew those individuals. Of course, it is not for us to judge the rights and wrongs of whatever they were accused of. Lord Bramall, about whom my hon. Friend Richard Benyon spoke, is someone for whom I have the highest regard. It is unforgivable that his wife died without knowing that the accusations against her husband were false. The way the raid on his home was conducted was a disgrace. The late Lord Brittan was a fine Home Secretary and a great European Commissioner. When I heard of the allegations against him I just could not believe them. It is, again, unforgivable that he died without knowing he had been cleared of the allegations.

However, I want to focus in my speech mainly on Harvey Proctor. He was the Member of Parliament for Basildon first, and then Billericay, from 1979 to 1987. I was elected for Basildon in 1983 and Harvey Proctor then became the MP for Billericay. As a newly elected Member of Parliament, elected under extraordinary circumstances to a House that was very different from the way it is today, I was grateful for all the help and support that he gave me. I speak as I find; he was perhaps the least materialistic Conservative colleague I have ever known. His reputation as an assiduous constituency Member still holds good today. It was a shock when, in May 1987, in the first week of the general election campaign, there was a trial and Harvey was convicted of an act of gross indecency; he was fined £1,450. Suddenly, in the first week of the campaign, there was a new Conservative candidate, the late Teresa Gorman.

I think that Harvey paid a heavy price for what he was found guilty of in 1987. I have been in correspondence with the Prime Minister, when she was Home Secretary, to see what could be done about the charges. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex for what he and others did to try to rescue Harvey’s career, which had been destroyed. So it was a shock when, in March 2015, Harvey’s home at Belvoir was raided. Between 1987 and 2015 I had rather lost contact with him and it was after some years, at a caravan rally at the Duke of Rutland’s estate, where he was the manager, that we met. I was reminded—we are all busy people and we forget about things—how his life had been destroyed; he was haunted by what had happened in 1987. Harvey was, of course, accused of rape and murder, and has been acquitted.

Sir Richard’s report, which is excellent, makes 40 recommendations. I want to end by saying that I am tiring of Ministers responding to debates with what amounts to saying they cannot do anything. In 1983 they could do something, so how is it that 33 years later Ministers seem to be so powerless? Surely a word could be said, or a message could be sent. As far as Harvey Proctor is concerned, his life has been destroyed; he is more than entitled to compensation, as indeed the other victims should be.