OPERATION MIDLAND CRITICISED BY HENRIQUES REPORT
A report released on 31 October 2016 by Sir Richard Henriques criticises the Metropolitan Police Service’s handling of historic sexual offence investigations alleged against person of public prominence.
The Henriques Report is particularly critical of Operation Midland, with forty-three findings revealed.
In particular, the report shows that Operation Midland made the following errors:-
- The complainant* Nick was believed to be a credible victim for too long, partially due to the force’s policy of believing complainants instead of remaining impartial
- Publicly described the allegations as being credible and true, a judgment that should be left for a jury to make if formal charges are brought against someone
- Search warrants were obtained with flawed and incomplete information
- The investigation should have been closed earlier. It was, in fact, reopened after being closed and even when it was clear there would not be a prosecution against Lord Brittan, he was never informed of this and sadly died without ever being informed of this.
Operation Midland centred around a complainant known only as Nick, who had made various serious allegations against a number of very high profile individuals in the immediate aftermath of Jimmy Savile’s exposure by ITV.
At this time, Operation Midland’s policy was to believe the complainant. Officers insisted that the ‘victim must be believed during the taking of the statement’. This is not correct. An officer’s duty is to investigate and actively test the complainant’s evidence at the time they make the complaint. This is how we avoid obviously false complaints proceeding unchallenged through the system.
And yet, the Henriques Report shows, there is a widespread attitude amongst the police force that complainants reporting allegations of sexual allegations, are to be believed ‘unless there is evidence that suggests something contrary to that reported by a victim’ says Chief Constable Bailey. This is an absolute reversal of the burden of proof.
This attitude was present in a circular distributed to all chief constables, police and crime commissioners and heads of public protection units in August 2016, which advised:
“When an allegation is received police should believe this account.”
For the man, or woman, who sees themselves accused of an offence they did not commit, these words will likely send a shiver down the spine. We expect, or perhaps at least hope, that our police force are performing a role of investigating alleged crime, from an unbiased professional standpoint.
The Henriques Report demonstrates that this has not been the case, and while recommendations have been made, we will watch with interest how quickly and enthusiastically these recommendations are adopted.
Furthermore, the Henriques Report recommends that a suspect should have the right to anonymity prior to arrest, and this is certainly a recommendation we agree with and support. Any person can find themselves the victim of a false allegation, and should not have their reputations and lives ruined any more than necessary while an investigation is ongoing.
If you are being investigated for a criminal offence and are concerned that the burden of innocence has been removed, our expert team will take a pro-active and strong approach to fighting to secure justice for you. Call us now on 01623 397200.
*The word complainant is used, instead of victim, as not all complainants are victims. Some complaints are entirely false, and are therefore not made by victims. The use of the word victim shows an inclination to believe complainants and goes against the sacred principle of every person being innocent until proven guilty.