One of Britain’s most senior police officers should face a gross misconduct charge over his role in Operation Midland, the disastrous investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring, the police watchdog has concluded.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct had previously cleared Steve Rodhouse of wrongdoing for overseeing the Metropolitan police’s operation, which saw the force raid homes of high-profile figures having fallen for the lies of the fantasist Carl Beech.
Rodhouse, formerly a deputy assistant commissioner in the Met, is now the National Crime Agency’s director general for operations.
The IOPC reopened its investigation after complaints that the Met had failed to investigate two individuals who allegedly made false allegations to detectives. Rodhouse is understood to have denied any wrongdoing to IOPC investigators. If found guilty of gross misconduct he could be sacked and barred from ever working in policing again.
Midland launched in 2014 after claims from Beech, who alleged he was a victim of a VIP paedophile ring that had murdered three boys. All his claims were made up and he was subsequently jailed for 18 years. At a press conference in December 2014, the Met had described Beech’s claims as “credible” and “true”.
Midland never made an arrest, but saw police raid and search the homes of the former home secretary Leon Brittan, the war hero Lord Bramall and the former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
The IOPC operations director, Amanda Rowe, said on Wednesday: “We decided the former senior officer may have breached police professional standards of behaviour relating to honesty and integrity regarding comments made to the media about Operation Midland in March 2016 and comments subsequently made to Sir Richard Henriques in August 2016.
“We also found that by failing to follow Sir Richard’s recommendation when it was made in 2016, and after it was again brought to the force’s attention following complaints in 2017 and 2020, the service provided by the Met was unacceptable and we have upheld these complaints.”
She added: “The force conducted several reviews which all concluded no investigation was needed. We found those reviews were flawed, did not consider all of the evidence and their rationales were not sound. We have also recommended the Met apologise to the individuals affected.”
Both Bramall and Brittan have since died and the Met paid damages to their families as well as apologising.
Proctor, whose complaint led to the announcement that Rodhouse should face disciplinary action, said: “ I do not take these actions seeking revenge. I am the last survivor of Operation Midland and the false allegations of Beech.
“But I do this not for the protection of the character of others who have now died. They were all innocent. Nor have I pursued these matters for myself but to ensure at least one police officer is found personally responsible for the terrible errors in Operation Midland and the awful consequences we all faced. Only in this way can I be sure … police officers of all ranks will know there are consequences for shoddy investigations …”