Police chief who headed the bungled VIP abuse inquiry removed from frontline duties

Steve Rodhouse, former Met deputy assistant commissioner, headed Operation Midland, which investigated alleged VIP paedophiles
Steve Rodhouse, former Met deputy assistant commissioner, headed Operation Midland, which investigated alleged VIP paedophiles

The police chief who headed the bungled VIP abuse inquiry has been moved from frontline duties after watchdogs launched an investigation into him for gross misconduct.

Steve Rodhouse, the former Met deputy assistant commissioner who headed Operation Midland, is to step aside from his role as director general of operations at the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The announcement by the NCA on Friday came after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said Mr Rodhouse had a case to answer for gross misconduct. He has been accused of breaching professional standards and making dishonest statements during his handling of the investigation.

He is the first officer to face disciplinary proceedings as a result of Operation Midland, in which a series of high-profile figures were investigated by police over false allegations of child abuse.

The move was seen as a victory for some of those who were falsely accused and their loved ones who have fought tirelessly to have someone in the police held accountable for the litany of catastrophic failings.

The Met Police spent 18 months investigating false claims of rape and abuse by fantasist Carl Beech against high profile figures including Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, the former home secretary, and Lord Bramall, the former head of the army.

Despite raiding the homes of some of those falsely accused, they shut down the operation without having made a single arrest. In July 2019 Beech was jailed for 18 years after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice and fraud.

Removed from role

In its statement on Friday, the NCA said: “Having fully considered the IOPC decision, the Agency has decided that, in order to protect public confidence in the NCA, Steve Rodhouse will move from the role of Director General Operations.

“He will undertake other projects in the Agency whilst work continues in relation to the IOPC proceedings. This position will be reviewed when we receive a final determination on this matter.

“Rob Jones has been appointed temporary Director General Operations. He will lead our operational and investigative work with immediate effect.

“There is rightfully a great deal of scrutiny on the conduct of law enforcement officers. We will continue to engage fully with the IOPC and their ongoing work.

“The NCA’s mission is to protect the public from serious and organised crime. It is important that we deliver this with public confidence and support.  The Agency will remain relentlessly focused on that mission.”

False allegations

Two other men known as Witness A and Witness B, who are alleged to have also come forward during Operation Midland to corroborate Beech’s lies with false allegations were never charged.

The IOPC said the gross misconduct investigation had followed complaints about the failure of the Met to properly investigate A and B.

The complaints were made by former MP Harvey Proctor and Daniel Janner, son of the late Labour MP Greville Janner, who was also falsely accused of abuse by Beech.

In 2016 Sir Richard Henriques, a former High Court judge, who carried out a review of Operation Midland, recommended that charges of perverting the course of justice be considered against Witness A and Witness B, but nothing was done.

The IOPC investigation will look at comments Mr Rodhouse made about Witness A and Witness B when he responded to Sir Richard’s findings in 2016.

Mr Rodhouse retired from the Met in 2018 and took up his £200,000-a-year job with the NCA the same year.