In August last year I wrote an article about Harvey Proctor re-writing the rules that govern those who are implicated/arrested for those arrested under Operation Yewtree and Operation Midland. I drew a distinction between him and other high profile figures implicated.
The majority of those arrested and investigated said nothing during the investigation. Harvey Proctor called a news conference and from that platform he set out every single detail of the allegations made against him and his defence to each allegation. He implored anyone who could substantiate Nick’s claims (the complainant) to come forward and assist the Police. He accused the Police of a homosexual witch hunt and invited the Police to either charge him or prosecute ‘ Nick’.
I concluded my piece by surmising that like any good poker player Harvey Proctor was either a world class bluffer or absolutely sure of his hand.
Operation Midland Review
The report by Mr Justice Henriques published this week answers that question. Mr Proctor was sure of his hand but my rather glib analogy masks serious failings by the Metropolitan Police and from my experience other police forces around the country.
Sir Richard Henriques found failures resulting from poor judgement and failures to accurately evaluate facts and react to them. These are human failings and to err is human, but the real failing was one that could have been avoided . The culture of the Police that ‘victims’ must be believed. This was a direct result of ‘victims’ not being believed for decades, whilst the likes of Jimmy Savile acted with impunity. From years of dismissing credible complaints police forces now take their accounts as gospel. The pendulum has swung completely, and too far the other way.
As a defence practitioner it always causes me concern that on the Greater Manchester Police pro-forma Talon log it reads ‘It is the policy of GMP to accept all reports of rape made by any victim as truthful’. I often want to write underneath, “ If that is the policy why go to the trouble of an investigation when the conclusion is pre determined”. Justice is the victim of this mentality and it is of this culture that Sir Richard is so rightly critical.
In total the review made 25 recommendations including removing the word ‘victim’ from the process. The word complainant is more appropriate. Also an acknowledgement that false complaints are made from time to time. Time will tell whether these recommendations are implemented and whether this post- Savile culture will change.
What of Harvey Proctor? He now speaks magnanimously, accepting the Police’s apology and states his respect for them remains undiminished. His comments hide however the inexorable toll this has taken on himself and family. You only need to look at footage of him prior and post the investigation as to the physical and undoubted mental affect this has had upon him.
What of Mr Proctor’s ‘victim’, Nick? Nick who was described as a credible and truthful witness by high ranking police officers, who took his word as ‘gospel’. He is now being investigated for perverting the course of Justice.
Perhaps justice will now be done, but it is too little, too late for the real victims of Operation Midland and others who are falsely accused.
The Guardian have recently highlighted problems with the Police’s approach to such cases. Click here to read more.
Max Saffman – Specialist Criminal Defence Lawyer
Written by Max Saffman. Max is a Higher Court Advocate with extensive experience of defending the full spectrum of criminal offences including murder, serious assaults, firearms offences, robbery, serious drugs conspiracies and allegations of people smuggling.