Home Secretary to call in £175,000 head of police watchdog
Home Secretary to call in head of police watchdog: £175,000 boss faces grilling over decision to clear Met officers of misconduct
- Priti Patel is set to personally interrogate the boss of the Carl Beech watchdog
- Independent Office Police Complaints won’t reopen misconduct investigation
- High court judge Sir Richard Henriques accused police of providing false evidence
Home Secretary Priti Patel is to personally interrogate the boss of the police watchdog accused of bungling its probe into the VIP child abuse inquiry.
Miss Patel, who has been in the post for less than a week, plans to haul in £175,000-a-year Michael Lockwood ‘as soon as possible’.
The Independent Office for Police Complaints yesterday refused to reopen its misconduct investigation into officers involved in the debacle, despite damning allegations from former high court judge Sir Richard Henriques.
In an article for the Mail, Sir Richard accused police of providing false evidence to obtain search warrants. This allowed them to raid the homes of D-Day hero Lord Bramall, ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor and former home secretary Lord Brittan’s widow.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured, plans to haul in £175,000-a-year boss of the police watchdog Michael Lockwood ‘as soon as possible’
Sir Richard suggested the officers involved should face a criminal investigation. However, the IOPC responded by saying it had already concluded there was ‘no suspicion of criminality’.
Last night a source close to Miss Patel told the Mail: ‘Priti will be meeting the head of the IOPC as soon as possible. Top of the agenda will be seeking an explanation as to why there were no proceedings against officers if there was indeed evidence of misconduct.’ Ken MacDonald, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, accused the watchdog of conducting a ‘cursory investigation’ into the most senior officers, who were not even interviewed.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: ‘They will have to explain how they missed so much of the material that Sir Richard seems to have ferreted out. Certainly, if he is right in his conclusions, it calls into question the rigour in which the IOPC have pursued this case and that would be very troubling.’ He called for a ‘full investigation’ into how warrants were obtained, adding: ‘If the courts were misled then criminal investigations should follow.’
Tory MP Nigel Evans said: ‘They should look again at all the processes that were followed… if people have hidden evidence or misled a judge which has led to £2.5million being wasted and lives being destroyed.’
The Independent Office for Police Complaints yesterday refused to reopen its misconduct investigation into officers involved in the debacle. Pictured is boss Mr Lockwood
Misconduct allegations were first referred to the IOPC’s predecessor, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, in 2016 but the probe was not completed until earlier this month. Sir Richard said he was ‘surprised’ by the length of the investigation, and warned it meant officers could not recall which documents they had seen before making warrant applications.
He said it was ‘significant’ that a relatively junior officer – a detective sergeant – with ‘limited knowledge’ of the investigation had signed the applications and applied in person to the judge.
Sir Richard also said detective chief inspector Diane Tudway, the chief investigating officer, was aware of several matters which undermined the credibility of key witness Carl Beech – and ‘knew full well that they had not been brought to the attention of the district judge’.
‘Knowingly misleading a district judge is far more serious than mere misconduct,’ he said. ‘The IOPC should in my judgment have investigated whether a criminal act had been committed.’
He also criticised the watchdog for failing to explain why two senior officers were exonerated without being interviewed.
Former deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse has since been promoted, while detective superintendent Kenny McDonald – who called Beech’s allegations ‘credible and true’ at the start of the inquiry in 2014 – retired on the eve of the witness’s own criminal trial this year.
The IOPC rejected Sir Richard’s claims in a statement published at lunchtime, saying it had conducted a ‘careful assessment’ in which ‘no suspicion of criminality was identified’.
The watchdog said investigators ‘did not identify any information to suggest officers deliberately withheld evidence’ with the intention of ‘misleading’ the district judge who approved the search warrants.
Lord Bramall branded the decision ‘completely ridiculous’.
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