July 22, 2019 / 3:34 PM / a month ago

Man convicted for inventing false claims about child abuse by VIPs

LONDON (Reuters) - A man who falsely alleged he had been a victim of a supposed child sex ring decades ago involving high-profile individuals including senior political and military figures was found guilty on Monday of perverting the course of justice.

Carl Beech, who was known by the pseudonym of “Nick”, told detectives he had been abused at military locations and at apartments close to parliament, and also said the paedophile gang had murdered three young boys.

British police launched a major investigation in 2014 into his claims. The claims were later dismissed and detectives were criticised for dozens of serious failings.

On Monday Beech, 51, was convicted of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud at Newcastle Crown Court in northern England.

“Beech caused unimaginable distress to the men he falsely accused and all the families caught up in his deception. Many of the accused were dead and unable to defend themselves,” said Liz Reid of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Beech’s actions betray true victims, who should never be afraid of coming forward to reveal abuse.”

The allegations led to ex-lawmaker Harvey Proctor and former army chief Edwin Bramall being identified as suspects in the media after police searched their homes.

When the allegations were first made, police described the claims as “credible and true”, comments which detectives later acknowledged were misleading.

Police closed down the “Operation Midland” in 2016 without any arrests. Beech’s claims led to police spending an estimated 2 million pounds ($2.50 million) to investigate, prosecutors said.

Beech was eventually revealed to be a paedophile himself after child abuse images were found on his computer. In January, Beech admitted four counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing indecent images and one count of voyeurism.

A review into the investigation of Beech’s original claims found serious mistakes were made in the investigation.

Errors were also made in a similar inquiry that had examined allegations about Leon Brittan, a former home secretary (interior minister) in Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.

Brittan died in 2015 without knowing he would not face prosecution while police later apologised to Proctor and Bramall and paid them compensation.

Operation Midland was launched after a series of child sex scandals and revelations that celebrities, such as former BBC star Jimmy Savile, had been involved in widespread abuse.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Frances Kerry

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