The police chief who led the bungled inquiry was under mounting pressure last night after his former Scotland Yard boss distanced herself from the decision to raid the homes of high-profile figures including Lord Bramall.
Ex-Met assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan said Operation Midland gold commander Steve Rodhouse had ‘operational control’ and ‘oversaw’ the investigation into an alleged Establishment paedophile ring.
She added: ‘I did not approve the raids nor was my permission or advice sought before the execution of the Section 8 warrants.’
Her intervention placed former Met deputy assistant commissioner Mr Rodhouse – now the £175,000-a-year director general (operations) at the National Crime Agency – firmly at the centre of the Operation Midland search warrants scandal.
Miss Gallan’s comment came in response to a series of questions from the Daily Mail that she answered before sex abuse fantasist ‘Nick’, real name Carl Beech, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and fraud last month.
As an assistant commissioner in the Met – the third most senior rank in the force – she had oversight of Operation Midland and received regular briefings from Mr Rodhouse.
She also updated former Scotland Yard boss Lord Hogan-Howe on the progress of the 16-month inquiry which ended without any arrests or charges in March 2016.
Miss Gallan told the Mail that upon taking her post as assistant commissioner in February 2015 and being briefed on Operation Midland ‘by the gold commander’, she ‘ordered an immediate review of what was by that stage a long-running investigation’.
She said she raised concerns about the use of the phrase ‘credible and true’ by a senior Met officer to describe key witness ‘Nick’ at the start of Operation Midland. She added: ‘I cannot speak for the views of the investigators in this case.
‘My view then and now is that it is for the courts, not the police to decide on the truth or otherwise of a witness. It is the role of the police to investigate and then to present the evidence to the CPS who must decide whether there should be a prosecution.’
Asked how often Lord Hogan-Howe was updated on Operation Midland, Miss Gallan said the chief ‘would have been briefed as and when appropriate as per any other significant investigation’.
Miss Gallan’s willingness to answer questions was in sharp contrast to Mr Rodhouse, who declined to answer any of ten questions put to him by the Daily Mail last month.
These included whether he approved the use of the phrase ‘credible and true’ by Det Supt Kenny McDonald in December 2014 and whether he approved the raids on the homes of Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor in March 2015.
Yesterday the Mail revealed how the emergence of the search warrant application for the raid on the home of former Armed Forces chief Lord Bramall put Mr Rodhouse at the centre of the Operation Midland row.
The document revealed that a district judge approved the police request after being assured its implications had been ‘considered at DAC level’ – deputy assistant commissioner, Mr Rodhouse’s rank at the time.
Following the scathing report into Operation Midland by ex-High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques in November 2016, which cleared Miss Gallan of any blame, Mr Rodhouse was referred to the police watchdog for potential breaches of ‘duties and responsibilities’ in the investigation.
Along with Mr McDonald he was cleared in March 2017. The watchdog said there was no evidence to indicate ‘bad faith, malice or dishonesty’ by the officers and Operation Midland was ‘carried out diligently’.