A convicted paedophile has been found guilty of making false allegations of murder and child sexual abuse against a string of public figures.
Carl Beech, 51, from Gloucester, was found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
His lies led to a £2m Metropolitan Police investigation which ended in no arrests or charges being made.
Beech, who denied the charges, did not react as the verdicts were delivered. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court took a day to reach their verdicts following a 12-week trial.
Known in media reports as “Nick”, Beech accused senior politicians as well as army and security chiefs of sadistic sexual abuse and said he had witnessed boys being murdered in the 1970s and 1980s.
Operation Midland, a two-year long Met investigation which resulted from the allegations by the former NSPCC volunteer, closed in March 2016.
Indecent image charges
In hours of tearful interviews with police, Beech falsely alleged a paedophile network consisting of establishment figures was operating in London and elsewhere during the 1970s and 1980s.
He falsely claimed his late stepfather, an Army major, had raped him and passed him on to the public figures to be tortured at military bases and sexually abused.
Former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, former Labour MP Lord Janner and ex-MI6 boss Sir Maurice Oldfield were among those he wrongly accused.
Beech also claimed he had been raped by DJ and prolific sexual abuser Jimmy Savile, fraudulently collecting £22,000 compensation.
He wrongly accused the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor of being directly involved in the murder of two boys – and also falsely implicated the former head of MI5, Sir Michael Hanley, in one of them.
Beech fabricated another claim about a boy being deliberately run over and suggested that he might have personally witnessed the killing of Martin Allen, who went missing as a teenager in 1979 and whose fate remains unknown.
‘An evil man’
Beech’s allegations led to the homes of several men being raided by police, including those belonging to Normandy veteran Field Marshall Lord Bramall, as well the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Mr Proctor.
The Met publicly described Beech’s allegations at the time as “credible and true”.
Lord Brittan died during the investigation without being informed that police had concluded there was no case against him. Lord Bramall’s wife of more than 60 years also died in 2015 before she heard her husband had been cleared.
Sir Hugh Beach, another D-Day veteran and former general who was falsely accused, told the BBC: “He is a man who has done enormous damage to totally innocent people who have done him no harm at all. An evil man.”
The Met Police’s deputy commissioner, Sir Stephen House, accepted his force “did not get everything right”, but said all officers investigated by the police watchdog in relation to Beech’s case had been found to have been working “in good faith”.
He said the Met would strive to identify any additional lessons it could learn from the case – adding that sexual offences cases were a “complex and challenging” part of police work, particularly when allegations related to historic sex abuse.
‘Disgraceful chapter in policing’
After a report into Operation Midland by a retired High Court judge, Beech was referred for investigation by Northumbria Police.
Detectives discovered the former paediatric nurse, school governor and hospital inspector was himself a paedophile. In January this year, he pleaded guilty to possessing hundreds of indecent images of children and voyeurism.
Speaking after the verdict, Mr Proctor called Operation Midland “a truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing”
He blamed it on “internal failings at the highest level” within the Met Police.
Mr Proctor said he had lost his home and his job while he was under suspicion.
“My livelihood was being torn apart, aided by the police,” he said.
He also criticised Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who met Beech in 2014 and discussed the allegations. Mr Watson “gave oxygen” to Beech’s allegations, Mr Proctor claimed.
Mr Watson defended his role and said he hoped the case does not prevent survivors of child sexual abuse going to the police.
He told the BBC: “I can understand why Harvey Proctor is very angry and upset but I’m afraid I haven’t got anything to apologise to him for.”
There was “absolutely no way” that he applied pressure “improperly” on police and politicians to investigate the case, he said.
Mr Proctor also criticised the BBC’s journalism on Beech’s allegations.
In 2014, the BBC broadcast an interview with Beech – whose identity was kept hidden at the time – as well as with police investigating the case.
In a statement issued after the trial verdict, the BBC said it had “reported serious allegations, in the public interest, which were the basis of a police murder investigation, and which the police later described as ‘credible and true'”.
It added: “Carl Beech has since been exposed as a fantasist and serial liar, not least by an investigation from the BBC’s Panorama.
“We express our utmost sympathy to those falsely accused by Beech and to the family of Martin Allen.”
Misdirect and mislead
The now-defunct Exaro news agency also came under attack from Mr Proctor.
The former MP said the court had heard that Beech had been shown images and locations by journalists Mark Watts and Mark Conrad to “facilitate his fantasies” during the investigation.
He said the journalists, from Exaro should be investigated for “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”.
Mr Conrad said he had “every sympathy” with those falsely accused, but said Beech was never shown any images of alleged abusers before he had named them.
He said Beech had “meticulously researched” his false claims, allowing him to “misdirect and mislead” journalists and the police.
Mr Watts said there was no evidence of criminal conduct by Exaro and Mr Conrad had shown the images to Beech “before we knew that there was any prospect” of police investigating.
He called for a public inquiry to ensure “the right lessons” are learned from the investigation.
After the trial, prosecutors said Beech “revelled in the attention that his tales were attracting” and “wanted to be a part of the scene that he was describing”.
Jenny Hopkins, head of special crime and counter-terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service said the case was “unlike any other I have seen in my career”.
“He is not a fantasist, as some people have described him, nor is he a victim of abuse where there was insufficient evidence to prosecute,” Ms Hopkins said.
Instead, he was a “very prolific and manipulative liar” who “thrived on being in the limelight”.
She said: “He would quite happily have seen innocent men arrested and face the full weight of the law.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has cleared three detectives following an investigation into how the Met Police applied for warrants to raid the homes of Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and Mr Proctor.
“The allegations Nick made were grave and warranted investigation and we believe those involved in applying for the search warrant acted with due diligence and in good faith at the time,” the IOPC’s Jonathan Green said.
‘Shocked and appalled’
At a time when his own paedophile activity was hidden, Beech went into primary schools and presented workshops and assemblies about children keeping themselves safe from abuse as a volunteer with the NSPCC.
He volunteered for the charity’s school service department from November 2012 until July 2015, stopping more than a year before police began to investigate him for perverting the course of justice and fraud.
The NSPCC said Beech had no connection with the charity when the offences came to light.
It said its volunteers were subject to “strenuous and thorough” safeguarding checks, adding: “We are shocked and appalled by today’s verdicts and hope Beech’s actions don’t prevent other abuse survivors from getting the justice they deserve.”
A former rough sleeper has launched an interactive guide to help homeless people in part of London find help and support.
During five months on the streets in 2015, Quddous Ahmed, 31, had a rock thrown at him, was racially abused and had his sleeping bag set alight.
He has now launched a map signposting where free food, showers and counselling are available in Hounslow.
He said his approach aims to make homeless people feel “human”.
Mr Ahmed described being on the streets as “the worst part of my life” during which “I had suicidal thoughts and felt extremely unsupported”.
But securing a position at a charity “switched my life around”, and inspired him to create Hounslow Soup Kitchen.
Speaking about the new map, he said: “It provides hope because you know there is an array of things you can be part of.
“It also centralises all the services that are available and free and open to the homeless without any judgement.”
While homeless people may not have smart phones, Mr Ahmed said they could still access the map by going online at job centres.
Mr Ahmed, who was born in the west London area but whose parents are Pakistani, described how he was couch surfing at a family friend’s house when he was attacked by her son.
“He threw a huge rock at my chest and starting hurling racist abuse at me.
“That prejudice is there against homeless people and in certain situations it comes out in very bad ways and this is one of them.”
Mr Ahmed has since pursued a “holistic approach” to tackling poverty, which involves identifying people’s strengths so they may “find their way out”.
Commuters have been told not to travel from London Waterloo during the rush hour after a fire closed nine platforms.
The lineside blaze damaged cabling outside the station, meaning trains cannot use platforms 16-24.
Network Rail said “significant damage” had been caused to equipment, meaning trains will be delayed or cancelled.
Disruption is expected for the rest of the day while the Thursday morning rush hour may also be affected.
Network Rail said its engineers would be working through the night to fix the damage.
Waterloo is the busiest and largest railway station in the UK.
The platforms which are closed are normally used by trains serving Windsor, Reading, Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston.
However, services from other platforms are also being affected because trains have to be diverted or revised.
- Circular services via Hounslow, Richmond, Strawberry Hill and Kingston have been cancelled
- Trains between Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside are diverted via Kingston
- Trains between Waterloo and Exeter/Salisbury are terminated and will restart from Basingstoke
Passengers were warned that services on other routes may also be subject to short-notice cancellations or delays.
In a joint statement, Network Rail and South Western Railway said commuters were “strongly advised to use alternative routes where possible and check their journeys before travelling at southwesternrailway.com for ticket acceptance and service details”.
Some passengers took to social media to express their frustration at the travel disruption.
One Twitter user described the situation as an “absolute shambles”, while others complained about being given the wrong or no information at all by train station staff.
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (day two):|
|Middlesex 384 Malan 166; Carey 4-54 & 189-5 Robson 73*, Simpson 56|
|Glamorgan 171 Lloyd 67; Helm 5-53, Roland-Jones 4-45|
|Middlesex (7 pts) lead Glamorgan (3 pts) by 402 runs|
Middlesex have a formidable lead of 402 over Glamorgan at 189-5 in their second innings, going into day three in Cardiff.
Sam Robson (73*) and John Simpson (56) have strengthened the visitors’ grip.
Toby Roland-Jones (4-45) made the most of a helpful pitch as Glamorgan were hustled out for an inadequate 171.
David Lloyd’s 67 was the top home score, while Tom Helm (5-53) wrapped up the innings with his fifth wicket after his first-evening purple patch.
Lloyd shared half-century stands with Billy Root and Chris Cooke before the visitors’ seamers re-established control, as Glamorgan’s last five wickets mustered just 28 runs.
A lead of 213 runs was not enough to persuade Dawid Malan to enforce the follow-on, wanting to avoid batting last on the most bowler-friendly Championship pitch of the season in Cardiff.
Although Middlesex slumped to 85-4, they were never under pressure thanks to their first-innings lead, and the Robson-Simpson century partnership blossomed in the evening sunshine to grind down Glamorgan hopes of avoiding a first defeat of the campaign.
Glamorgan vice-captain David Lloyd told BBC Sport Wales:
“A very difficult day, they hit their lengths more regularly than we did, then we started well with the ball in the second dig but it’s always tough when you’re chasing the game.
“It’s a wicket where you have to be positive and get forward because it’s starting to go more up and down- it’s about looking to score rather than sit there and wait for things to happen.
“We’ve showed in previous games that we can battle draws out so you never know, we’ll have to try to bat the rest of the game and we can do it if we get our mindsets right.”
Middlesex bowler Tom Helm told BBC Radio London:
“It took a bit longer to get the fifth one than I had in my head last night, but Toby had four and I’m very happy with it.
“If you get the ball in the right area, the odd one zips through and it changed a bit from day one.
“There’s so long left in this game, we can bat for as long as we want and it’ll be interesting to see how the morning goes, they’ll come out fired up but we’ll see how we go.”
A woman riding an electric scooter has been killed in a crash with a lorry in south-west London.
The 35-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene at the Queen Circus roundabout, Battersea following the crash at about 08:30 BST.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said her next of kin had yet to be informed and no arrests had been made.
In July last year a cyclist was killed at the roundabout after being hit by a bin lorry.
A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We sent an advanced paramedic, two ambulance crews, an incident response officer and two medics in cars to the scene, with the first of our medics arriving in under four minutes.
“Sadly, despite the extensive efforts of medics, a woman died at the scene.”
Transport for London and Wandsworth Council redesigned the roundabout in 2015, which trialled the use of raised kerbs and separate traffic lights to keep cyclists and vehicles segregated at junctions.
Concerns had been raised that the new layout was too complicated.
While the cause of the crash is unknown, e-scooters are illegal to ride on public roads, including in cycle lanes or on the pavement.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to all those involved in this tragic incident, and fully support the police as they carry out their investigations.
“Safety is at the heart of all our road laws and it is important that retailers continue to remind people at the point of sale that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads.”
An electric scooter, or e-scooter, is similar to a traditional children’s scooter but has a motorised engine attached.
An engineering train has derailed in south London causing the closure of the Gatwick Express service.
The train partly left the tracks at low speed outside Victoria station at about 03:00 BST.
No Gatwick Express trains are running, while Southern warned its services would be “severely reduced”.
The train has moved and the track will now be “assessed for damage” and repaired if necessary through the night, according to Southern.
Disruption is expected to last throughout Tuesday but Gatwick Express and Southern said a normal service was expected on Wednesday.
The train was stuck across a number of tracks meaning platforms nine to 13 at Victoria were blocked, while services were not able to use the “slow/stopping” lines to and from Clapham Junction.
Some trains were also unable to leave the Battersea depot – further reducing the number of services that could run.
Recovery teams cut the 50-tonne train from its two wagons and lifted it back on to the track using hydraulic jacks.
Trains running through Gatwick Airport were also disrupted by a separate signalling fault and a passenger who was injured as they left a carriage, which led to one platform becoming blocked.
Some commuters took to social media as they found their trains had been cancelled.
Other stations, including London Bridge, also became congested as people tried to find alternative routes.
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A Network Rail spokesperson said passengers should travel “via London Bridge or London Blackfriars as trains will be delayed, diverted or cancelled”.
Train tickets for Southern and Gatwick Express services have been accepted for reasonable routes on other services.
Train services affected:
- Gatwick Express services are completely suspended
- Services to Sutton, Epsom Downs and Epsom to and from London Victoria are reduced
- Some mainline services will be diverted to London Bridge instead of London Victoria
- Southern services between London Victoria and Reigate are cancelled and passengers are advised to use Thameslink to and from Redhill and then Great Western Railway between Reigate and Redhill
- Services between London Victoria and East Grinstead will call additionally at Selhurst and Streatham Common
- Services between Milton Keynes and East Croydon will call additionally at Wandsworth Common when not already booked to do so
- Services between London Victoria and Horsham via Sutton will call additionally at Ewell East
- Southern trains from Sutton to London Bridge via Wimbledon will be cancelled. Thameslink will be running as normal
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|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood (day one):|
|Middlesex 172: Malan 28; Shaw 4-33, Higgins 3-52|
|Gloucestershire 59-2: Dent 27*; Roland-Jones 2-15|
|Middlesex 0 pts, Gloucestershire 3 pts|
Josh Shaw took three prize scalps as Gloucestershire triggered a Middlesex collapse which put Division Two’s bottom club in trouble at Northwood.
Shaw removed Sam Robson (23), Dawid Malan (28) and Nick Gubbins (26) in his 4-33, and Ryan Higgins took 3-52 as his old club slipped from 98-2 to 139-8.
They were eventually bowled out for 172 before two Toby Roland-Jones wickets in reply lifted their spirits.
But Gloucestershire steadied the ship to reach 59-2 and trail by just 113.
Seamer Shaw’s performance built on his six wickets against Glamorgan in their previous game, as he claimed three of Middlesex’s top four.
His victims included Malan, whose hopes of an Ashes call-up were boosted by a career-best 199 at Derby last week.
However, he top-edged a short of a length ball and Graeme van Buuren ran in to take a fine catch.
A man was stabbed to death in a south-west London street by the person he had been walking with, police have said.
Tesfa Campbell, 40, was found by police responding to reports of a fight on Latchmere Road in Battersea on Wednesday. He died in hospital.
Det Ch Insp Simon Harding, from The Met, said it is believed Mr Campbell was walking on Burns Road with another man who stabbed him and fled on foot.
No arrests have been made in connection with his death.
Police found Mr Campbell injured at about 14:45 BST and have appealed for witnesses who were in the area at the time, “particularly” around the nearby Latchmere Leisure Centre.
Det Ch Insp Harding said: “This stabbing happened in broad daylight and we believe there are people out there who can help us establish the facts of the incident.”
A post-mortem examination of Mr Campbell, who was from Croydon, will happen in due course.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 28-year-old who was stabbed in east London.
The victim, 28, was found with multiple stab wounds at the junction of Ron Leighton Way and Wakefield Street in East Ham, Newham on Saturday night.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been notified.
Scotland Yard said a 23-year-old man was arrested after he handed himself into police. He remains in custody at an east London police station.
Former Fulham and Liverpool forward Ryan Babel has signed a three-year contract with Turkish champions Galatasaray.
The 32-year-old Dutch international was a free agent after his contract at Fulham expired at the end of the season.
Galatasaray said Babel has received a £1.79m signing-on fee and will earn £2.24m a year.
After leaving Liverpool in 2007, Babel had spells at Hoffenheim and Ajax.
He has already played twice in Turkey, for Kasimpasa and Besiktas, as well as Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates and Deportivo de La Coruna.
He has won 57 caps for the Netherlands, scoring eight goals.