Alistair Lexden has been campaigning in the Lords for some years to try to get the full truth about misconduct by Met officers during the utterly disastrous Operation Midland of 2015-16, in which innocent people were treated as if they were guilty of appalling child sex abuse crimes. The case for a detailed independent investigation grows by the day.
The Lords made its strong feelings clear in its last discussion of the issue on 11 February (see below). Since then, Sir Richard Henriques, the High Court judge who carried out a full inquiry into Operation Midland, has repeated his dissatisfaction with the Met’s response to his report. “So far as I know”, he has said, “not one of my recommendations has been either accepted or rejected by the Met”. He is particularly concerned about the failure to bring five officers, named in his report, to account.
In a letter published in The Times on 15 February, Sir Richard wrote: “In my review of Operation Midland I had called for a rigorous investigation into the unlawful obtaining of search warrants, stating that many questions needed to be asked. In the event only one officer, more than two years later, faced a single question.” He has now called on the Home Secretary to order an independent criminal investigation into the five detectives at the centre of the scandal—and into the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the watchdog which let them all off, having made no attempt to do its duty properly.
On 24 February, the man who issued the search warrants in question, Judge Howard Riddle, who is now retired, added his voice to the call for a criminal investigation. Writing in the Daily Mail, he said that Sir Richard was correct when he concluded that: “I was knowingly misled and that there are reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed.”
In response, the Home Secretary said: “There are outstanding questions. I would like to meet Sir Richard… There is more that clearly needs to be done.” But she gave no indication of what, if anything, she would actually do.
Alistair Lexden expressed his view to the Mail where it was reported on 25 February: “Given what we have heard from Sir Richard Henriques and now from the judge who dealt with the application for search warrants, the case for further investigation is in my judgment absolutely unanswerable.” He has put this grave issue on the Lords order paper for further discussion on 16 March.