Operation Midland: Home Secretary Priti Patel asked repeatedly to support Cressida Dick

12 February 2021, 10:51 | Updated: 12 February 2021, 12:49

By Asher McShane

Home Secretary Priti Patel was repeatedly asked on LBC this morning to express confidence in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick over the force's botched VIP child abuse probe.

On Call The Cabinet Ms Patel was asked by a listener: "Considering her role in Operation Midland and the Carl Beech affair do you still have confidence in Cressida Dick? Is she fit for purpose?"

Ms Patel replied: "A lot of work has taken place on Operation Midland. There is work and a review of the measures the Met have been questioned on.

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Priti Patel was asked repeatedly to voice support for Cressida Dick
Priti Patel was asked repeatedly to voice support for Cressida Dick. Picture: LBC

"This is a live issue... I don't want to go into details on this particular call."

Pressed by Nick Ferrari on whether she had confidence in the Commissioner, the Home Secretary said: "I'm working with the commissioner, absolutely, on some of the measures and the reforms that they've been tasked with."

Nick said: "I'm going to say you don't have confidence in the Commissioner of the Met."

Ms Patel responded: "I work with the commissioner.... the Commissioner does a lot of great work and she oversees the largest police force in the country.

"There are still questions, rightly so, some questions have been put to me today actually, very publicly in newspapers, and it's right that I also look at these questions."

A Number 10 spokesman said of the Met's bungled investigation into false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring in Westminster: "This was a deeply concerning case and the PM's thoughts are with Lady Brittan, her late husband (Leon Brittan) and others affected.

"The Prime Minister has complete confidence in the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, as does the Home Secretary.

"They are working together to reduce crime and protect the public from the threats posed by serious criminals, terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic.

"Both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have absolute confidence in her as we work together with the police to make our streets safer."

The Home Office said in a statement: "As the Home Secretary said she works with Cressida Dick everyday. The Home Secretary has full confidence in her to do her job.”

Nick went on to ask whether the police were "above the law" and whether a public inquiry was needed. The Home Secretary replied: "The police are not above the law."

Ms Patel's comments came after a former High Court judge called on her to launch a criminal inquiry into the failed probe.

In an open letter, Sir Richard Henriques said Scotland Yard's disastrous Operation Midland has "gravely damaged" confidence in the justice system.

He heavily criticised the Met's bungled investigation into false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring in Westminster in a 2016 report, which identified 43 police failings.

But the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog found no evidence of misconduct or criminality by the officers during the operation.

Former home secretary Leon Brittan was one of the men falsely accused by fantasist Carl Beech - then known as "Nick" - and died in January 2015 without knowing there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

His home was raided, along with those of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, before it emerged that all the claims were based on lies by Beech.

Beech was later jailed for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the course of justice.