in the back
It’s a Winsor knot
Carl Beech , Issue 1507
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WINSOR SOUP: Chief inspector of constabulary Sir Tom Winsor faces a clear conflict of interest in examining Scotland Yard’s disastrous VIP paedophile ‘investigation’
FOLLOWING publication two weeks ago of Sir Richard Henriques’s 391-page review of Operation Midland, home secretary Priti Patel ordered yet another inquiry into Scotland Yard’s disastrous “investigation” of a VIP paedophile ring. This one is to be conducted by Sir Tom Winsor, her majesty’s chief inspector of constabulary.

Shome conflict of interest, shurely? The Henriques report found that one crucial reason for the debacle was Inspector Knacker’s insistence from the outset that the liar and fraudster Carl Beech, aka “Nick”, was “credible and true”. This strict policy of “believe the victim” was imposed on the police in November 2014 by none other than… Sir Tom Winsor, chief inspector of constabulary.

In a letter to the Times last week, Winsor complained that people have misrepresented “my 2014 statement that the police should institutionalise a culture of believing those who say they have been victims of crime”. What he had meant was that “the presumption of belief in the complainant should be limited to the act of the police’s recording of an alleged crime, which is the trigger for an investigation, and no further. Having begun an investigation, the police must always proceed with an open mind and investigate thoroughly and in a timely manner. There should be no prejudice or bias against or in favour of the allegation…”

Three child murders
By referring to “my 2014 statement”, he makes it sound like a mere personal opinion. In fact it was an official edict, in a report issued on 18 November 2014: “Immediately, forces should ensure that, in crime-recording: a) the presumption that the victim should always be believed is institutionalised.” And so, immediately, they did. The man then in overall charge of Operation Midland, deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse, gave instructions that if asked by journalists, his officers should say they believed Beech.

On 18 December 2014, a month after Winsor’s edict, detective supt Kenny McDonald of Operation Midland obediently told the media that the allegations – which included three child murders – were true. This was only a few weeks after the Met first interviewed “Nick”, and before it had even started to check his claims.

Winsor’s 2014 instructions did not state, as he now implies, that “there should be no prejudice or bias against or in favour of the allegation”, or that “having begun an investigation, the police must always proceed with an open mind and investigate thoroughly and in a timely manner”. He did say so in later statements, but not in his November 2014 report – the one that Operation Midland officers followed so calamitously.

Fundamental change
In that document, after telling police to “institutionalise” the presumption of belief when recording crimes, he ordered that “practices such as investigate-to-record (where the recording of a crime is delayed until after an initial investigation of the complaint) are discontinued”. By dropping the practice of investigating complaints before recording them as crimes, Winsor fundamentally changed police practice.

When he now claims that “believe the victim” applied only to the recording of a crime, not its investigation, Winsor is making a distinction without a difference. By publicly “believing” that the crimes described by Beech had indeed occurred, the police were already showing “prejudice… in favour of the allegation”, despite not having any evidence. Since they were doing this on his instructions, it’s hard to see how Sir Tom’s independent investigation into Operation Midland can criticise the Yard without also severely censuring himself.

More top stories in the latest issue:

READ AND WEEP
Why the choice of Nick Read as new Post Office chief executive says little for the government’s long-term commitment to the 360-year-old institution.

SAFETY-LAST POLICY
Insurance giant Zurich is still trying to avoid liability for correcting defects at two blocks of flats for which it had issued safety certificates – despite knowing of ‘serious non-compliances with fire safety provision’.

DAM AND BLAST
The Canal and River Trust’s heavily redacted report on the state of Toddbrook Reservoir dam spillway is just as useless as its reports on previous infrastructure failures on its waterways network.

PARK HOME WORRIES
With hundreds of residents in Kent at risk of homelessness, another seemingly rogue park-homes owner is cocking a snook at planners and regulators.

PARENT POWER
A successful primary school annexe earmarked for closure in Brent has won a stay of execution after determined efforts from staff, parents and unions.

ARMS EXPORTS
The trade department keeps breaking a court order banning new arms export licences to Saudi Arabia – but MPs seem reluctant to discuss the breach.

PROFITING FROM FAILURE
US prison firm MTC is still making a profit from London’s privatised probation service – despite its underwhelming performance ‘requiring improvement’.

TIED IN NOTTS
Nottingham College faces escalating strikes by lecturers who have been threatened with the sack if they don’t accept onerous new contracts.

COX OF TRICKS
Pressure is growing on attorney general Geoffrey Cox over interminable delays in deciding whether to prosecute anyone in the GPT Saudi bribery scandal.

HIRE AND IRE
More proof emerges that the government’s Disability Confident jobs scheme is ever more ineffective at persuading employers to hire disabled people.

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1507 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 29th October 2019
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