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Statement on Operation Midland

News   •  Mar 21, 2016 14:42 GMT

A man in his 60s who was previously interviewed under caution has today, Monday 21 March, been advised by officers working on Operation Midland that he will face no further action.

Operation Midland has now closed.

In October 2014, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) received allegations of a serious nature involving murder and sexual assault made by a single individual. The allegations concerned non-recent matters over a 10 year period (1975-1984) at a number of locations.

The credibility of the allegations was assessed after a process involving extended questioning of the complainant by specialist child protection detectives.

Following the assessment, an investigation was launched.

In November 2014, in response to media inquiries, it was publicly confirmed an investigation had been launched. In December 2014 a public appeal for information and witnesses was made, as is normal in serious investigations of this kind.

The allegations included the potential homicide of three boys. The complainant identified one of these as resembling a boy called Martin Allen who disappeared in November 1979.

The initial allegations were received from a single complainant. Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines are clear that this should not preclude possible prosecution in a case involving an allegation of sexual assault, but the quality of evidence must be assessed. Many rape allegations are initially uncorroborated.

In the course of seeking evidence which could corroborate or indeed disprove the initial allegations, more individuals came forward to provide additional information to Operation Midland. They were interviewed in September 2015. The allegations included further information relating to the disappearance of Martin Allen. This generated new lines of inquiry which have had to be thoroughly investigated.

This evidence has also been assessed, but does not provide the corroboration that would lead to the MPS seeking to charge a suspect.

The CPS has been involved for the past 12 months and is aware of the nature of the inquiries considered by the investigation team. The decision on whether to refer the case to the CPS for a decision on whether to charge is one for the police. In this case, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, the senior officer in charge of Operation Midland, has concluded that the threshold has not been met for the case to be referred for any charging decisions. Whilst investigations could not be completed into individuals who are no longer alive, sufficient evidence has not been found that would have led the MPS to refer the matter to the CPS if they were alive.

The disappearance of Martin Allen remains an outstanding concern for the MPS and for his family, who do not know what happened to their son. Specialist investigators from the Homicide and Major Crime Command will continue a missing person inquiry into Martin’s disappearance.

The team of 31 officers working on Operation Midland will be released to work on other investigations. The most recent cost of the investigation – from November 2015 - was £1.7 million, but the final cost will be published in due course.

It is not uncommon for investigations to result in no action against individuals and it is a central part of our judicial system that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty in a court. This is why the MPS does not name individuals arrested, or interviewed under caution, - except in exceptional circumstances - and did not do so in this case.

In the course of the investigation, officers have not found evidence to prove that they were knowingly misled by a complainant. The MPS does not investigate complainants simply on the basis that their allegations have not been corroborated.

In September 2015 the MPS acknowledged that the use of the phrase "credible and true" at a media appeal could have given the wrong impression that the outcome of the investigation was being pre-empted. However, an open mind was retained throughout.

As with any case, the MPS has released sufficient details to facilitate an appeal for information. The MPS has not offered more detail unless there was a clear policing purpose in doing so.

This position will not change now that Operation Midland has concluded. The MPS will not publicly disclose further information about the investigation that might breach the confidentiality of the complainants or those who have been investigated. The MPS will, of course, support the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse if it chooses to examine this investigation.

The MPS will not apologise for carrying out its duty to investigate serious allegations of non-recent abuse. The MPS recognise however, how unpleasant it is for an individual to be investigated and to have their innocence publicly called into question. The MPS sympathises with those affected, including the families of those no longer alive, and regrets the distress they have felt. But it is in the interests of justice for police to investigate thoroughly.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, the senior officer in charge of Operation Midland said:

“It is absolutely right that we assessed carefully the allegations made to us in October 2014 and did not dismiss them prematurely. Our initial inquiries supported the need for a thorough investigation to seek any evidence that might corroborate or disprove the allegations.

"Investigations of non-recent allegations are extremely challenging and complex for all of those involved.

“Victims of non-recent abuse should have the confidence to come forward and know that we will listen to them, take seriously their allegations and investigate without fear or favour.

“It is just as important for those under investigation to know that they will be treated fairly. Everyone is innocent unless proven guilty in the courts."

The Commissioner has previously announced that Sir Richard Henriques has been asked to carry out an independent review of this and other investigations.

He will make recommendations about whether there are ways to improve the process for all of those involved in it in the future.

The key findings of the review and the recommendations will be published later this year, but the full review will contain confidential and sensitive information and will be a private report for the Commissioner.

Detectives from the Directorate of Professional Standards of the MPS continue to carry out inquiries into a number of allegations from former officers that concerns about sexual abuse involving political figures were not properly investigated in previous decades. At present, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is managing 32 such investigations.

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