CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM
The storm after the damning Henriques report into how the Met Police police handled a series of high profile paedophile investigations -including Operation Midland and Yewtree -has led to demands that one of the principal accusers called ” Nick ” be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.
I have never met ” Nick” as the story was handled by my colleague Mark Conrad but am aware of the circumstances of the Exaro investigation.
Henriques himself – while deciding that all the prominent figures accused in Operation Midland are innocent and were subject to false allegations – stops short of actually recommending this despite being pressed by the Janner family and seeing the strong demands from former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
He says “Such a course is well outside my terms of reference and may well be cited as a ground for staying any criminal action against ” Nick.”
But the Met Police decided to ask Northumbria Police to investigate whether ” Nick” had indeed done this.
Unless Henriques, who has only released 84 pages of a 500 page report,has secret information on Nick proving how he made all this up I have considerable scepticism that the police could make a charge of perverting the course of justice stick or even be accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
My reason is that there is a precedent. Just 16 months ago a person was tried at the Old Bailey in a court case that most of the national newspapers could not be bothered to cover.
I was a prosecution witness alongside other journalists in that trial in a case brought by the Met Police against Ben Fellows who had accused the former Tory chancellor, Ken Clarke, of sexually abusing him.Clarke denied it vehemently and Henriques backs him up.
My involvement – which is contained in a statement on this website after the trial was over – was because I had given a statement to the Met Police while they were investigating his claims.
Fellows was a member of an undercover sting by the Cook Report which was looking at Ian Greer Associates, a long defunct lobbying company, and it was while he was working with us he alleged this had happened.
The Met Police in the end not only did not find any evidence but decided to prosecute him for perverting the course of justice.
He was acquitted of this charge by the jury.
We do not know why the jury decided this. However it was put to them by his defence barrister that it was the police that sought his statement not Fellows who had actually initially refused. So he had not deliberately set out to pervert the course of justice.
The survivor Nick is in the same position. He did not go to the police demanding they investigate the Westminster paedophile ring. The police sought him as a potential witness when they contacted Exaro asking whether we could provide his details to them.
Exaro made it clear to the police that it would be up to Nick whether he talked to them. Exaro also remained neutral on whether he wanted to talk to him – we did not pressurise him to go to the police. In the end he decided he would – but it was because the police requested it.
Given that – unless again there is something secret that Henriques knows but is not telling the public – it is going to require a high bar to prove he deliberately set out to force the Met Police to spend £2m on an investigation.
There is also another point to this. If the police ask a survivor to make a statement to them so they can pursue people where child sexual abuse crimes are alleged to be committed are they now going to issue a warning to the survivor. Are they going to tell survivors that if they cannot prove the case – or no other witnesses come forward – they will liable for prosecution for perverting the course of justice. If that is the new era survivors are going to be very reluctant to come forward to the police in future.