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There are times, when you read something in a newspaper, that you need to check it’s not April 1 — because it seems more like satire than reality.
That was my feeling when I read in the Mail last Friday that Lord Hogan-Howe is one of four candidates to become head of the National Crime Agency (known as ‘Britain’s FBI’).
For Hogan-Howe was the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police during its grotesque pursuit of war heroes and other blameless public servants who had been accused of not just child abuse but torture, ‘satanic rituals’ and murder by a now-jailed sex-offender and malicious fantasist called Carl Beech.
Hogan-Howe consistently praised what he called the ‘quality’ of this multi-year hounding of, among others, Britain’s greatest soldier, Field Marshal Edwin Bramall, and the former Home Secretary Lord (Leon) Brittan.
There are times, when you read something in a newspaper, that you need to check it’s not April 1 — because it seems more like satire than reality. That was my feeling when I read in the Mail last Friday that Lord Hogan-Howe (pictured) is one of four candidates to become head of the National Crime Agency – known as ‘Britain’s FBI’
Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the public face of the investigation (Operation Midland) at the outset, had broadcast to the nation, via the BBC Six O’Clock news in December 2014, that Beech’s fantastical claims — all of them, presumably including those of ‘satanic orgies’ among the top brass on Salisbury Plain on Remembrance Sunday — were ‘credible and true’.
Yet the Met Police had not a shred of evidence for any of the accusations; and they knew it.
When challenged on this in February 2016 by the BBC’s John Humphrys, Hogan-Howe, while Operation Midland was still running, insisted merely that the officer concerned had ‘misspoken’ and ‘We acknowledged that fairly quickly — in a matter of days, not months’.
This, also, was a falsehood. It had taken fully nine months for the Met to correct what it had declared on the BBC’s main evening news bulletin.
By the way, Hogan-Howe’s successor as Met commissioner, the beleaguered Dame Cressida Dick, has not got clean hands in this matter. She had overseen Operation Midland in its earlier stages, when she was the boss of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse.
He was the ‘gold commander’ entrusted with investigating a murderous, sexually-motivated conspiracy, allegedly involving a cabal of former heads of the armed forces, the intelligence services, a prime minister, and sundry MPs from both main parties, including Lord Brittan.
Hogan-Howe was the Commissioner of the Met during its grotesque pursuit of war heroes and other blameless public servants who had been accused of child abuse, torture, ‘satanic rituals’ and murder by a now-jailed sex-offender and malicious fantasist called Carl Beech (pictured)
She admitted that when she heard Kenny McDonald describe the allegations as ‘true’, ‘I just felt for him. I remember thinking, ‘Oh no’. I know he didn’t mean to say that; that, of course, was a mistake. It was unfortunate.’
Unfortunate! As I wrote at the time: ‘So why didn’t she immediately correct what she called ‘of course, a mistake’? Or tell Rodhouse to do so? Or ask the then Met commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, to intervene? Perhaps it was because they all ‘felt for’ Detective Superintendent McDonald, without for a second stopping to wonder how Beech’s blameless targets (such as the then dying Leon Brittan) must have felt on learning that the Met police had already decided that they were child torturers and killers.’
You may be wondering: what happened to then Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse? He was the man held principally responsible by Edwin Bramall — as the Normandy landings veteran told me when I went to see him at the home that was turned over by 20 detectives while his dementia-afflicted wife cried out in anguish: ‘What have we done?’
Answer: the former ‘gold commander’ of Operation Midland moved seamlessly into the role — with a salary of almost a quarter of a million pounds a year — of Director of Operations at the National Crime Agency.
How cosy. And even cosier if he is joined by his old boss, Hogan-Howe.
In fact, the ex-Met chief has been doing very nicely, thank you, in recent years.
I don’t just mean because he has a pension pot of around £5 million from his former role, or sits in the House of Lords. Hogan-Howe has also been handed a slew of advisory roles by Boris Johnson’s administration, and last year was appointed a director of the Cabinet Office.
How can that be? In a word, payback.
Hogan-Howe had taken the unusual decision to participate in the 2019 campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party — on behalf of Boris Johnson (who had appointed him as Commissioner in the first place, when, as London Mayor, he sacked the incumbent Met boss, Sir Ian Blair).
Thus in June 2019, Hogan-Howe appeared in a ‘team Johnson’ ad, put out on social media, in which he acclaimed the then aspirant party leader: ‘I worked with him for five years. He was really great. I found him to be loyal, honourable, and he did what he promised to do.’
Johnson said that he was ‘honoured’ to have Hogan-Howe’s support.
Hogan-Howe consistently praised what he called the ‘quality’ of this multi-year hounding of, among others, Britain’s greatest soldier, Field Marshal Edwin Bramall, and the former Home Secretary Lord Leon Brittan (pictured)
Technically, the role of head of the National Crime Agency is in the gift of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, not the Prime Minister. And I would hope she chooses anyone but Hogan-Howe.
However, the Home Secretary owes her own job — indeed her survival in it after the PM rejected a report highly critical of her treatment of officials — to Johnson.
So if he wants his mate to get the job, I can’t see her challenging him (though I’d be delighted to be proved wrong). It’s not just Hogan-Howe and Rodhouse who seem able to move effortlessly on from their appalling misjudgments in cases involving the obvious fantasist and crook Carl Beech (whom almost every journalist to take an interest in the matter could see for what he was, apart from LBC’s James O’Brien).
Beech was also the man who inspired Operation Conifer — the Wiltshire Police Force’s investigation into his claims of torture, satanic abuse etc etc against the late PM Sir Edward Heath (who had been a Salisbury resident).
In fact Beech had simply adopted the decades-old claims of the dotty conspiracy theorist David Icke, for his own purposes.
Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald (pictured), the public face of the investigation (Operation Midland) at the outset, had broadcast to the nation, via the BBC Six O’Clock news in December 2014, that Beech’s fantastical claims were ‘credible and true’
The then Chief Constable of Wiltshire, Mike Veale, burnt through more than £1.5 million on this delusional criminal investigation into someone who was, of course, long dead and buried.
Veale was quoted in a national newspaper as saying that he was ‘120 per cent sure’ that Heath was guilty: his own version of ‘credible and true’.
Veale escaped all censure for this farce, even going on to become Chief Constable of Cleveland, which he was required to leave only after the Inspectorate of Constabulary rated the force ‘inadequate’ in several aspects of its performance.
Veale is also, quite separately, now facing ‘gross misconduct proceedings’ from the Independent Office for Police Conduct. This is the second IOPC investigation into Veale: in 2018 it found him to have lied about the way in which his Wiltshire Police mobile phone had been destroyed.
Yet, almost unbelievably, the Conservative police and crime commissioner for Leicestershire, Rupert Matthews, last year appointed Veale to be his adviser.
Here, too, it appears to be political favouritism, rather than justice, let alone common sense, at work.
Hogan-Howe took the unusual decision to participate in the 2019 campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party on behalf of Boris Johnson. They are pictured together in 2014
The Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, the publicity-addicted Andrew Bridgen, had been a vocal supporter of Veale’s ludicrous escapade to pursue a David Icke-inspired agenda, and recommended to Matthews that he appoint the man who is in fact the country’s most discredited ex-Chief Constable.
Bridgen defended this recommendation on the grounds that Veale was ‘the most honest policeman I have ever met’ and that ‘He’s been a Chief Constable twice, he knows everything, doesn’t he?’
Bridgen’s encomium is only exceeded in its delusional hyperbole by Veale’s self-assessment on the LinkedIn website. Here he describes himself as ‘an experienced, influential and inspirational strategic leader . . . I am able to operate within my ethical and moral boundaries without compromising my values and integrity’.
It would certainly demonstrate that there are no ‘ethical and moral boundaries’ within this Government if Lord Hogan-Howe — the man who presided so complacently over the most shameful investigation in the history of the Metropolitan Police — is appointed head of the National Crime Agency.