In 2012 Senior officers began trawling through files to ensure other celebrities were not let off crimes because of their status. A number have been convicted, but others have been wrongly accused. These include Lord McAlpine who was accused by a man who later admitted he had confused the former Conservative Party Treasurer with a known sex offender who had a similar name.
LONDON, United Kingdom – The deputy leader of the UK Labour Party has been forced to make a humiliating apology after wrongly accusing a former minister of being a rapist. Tom Watson MP was dragged before parliament yesterday to explain why he publicly said the Conservative Lord Brittan had attacked a woman despite their being no evidence to back the claim.
Watson was accused of “a very low blow, a betrayal” by the police officer who had been tasked with investigating whether Lord Brittan had raped a girl in the 1960s. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle met with Watson to tell him the allegations against Brittan were baseless. But Watson used the information to write a letter to prosecutors demanding the case be reopened.
The letter was then leaked putting Brittan's name in the public domain for the first time. Lord Brittan was too frail to fight the allegations himself, and died before he was fully publicly exonerated.
DCI Settle called Watson's actions a “baseless witch-hunt” because they took place after he had "concluded that any action against Lord Brittan would not have a legal basis.” The police officer went on to say the investigation “fell at the first hurdle” and to proceed would have been “grossly disproportionate.”
When the Watson letter was released to the media the leadership of the Metropolitan Police were thrown into a “state of panic,” according to DCI Settle. Who said he was then ordered to bring Lord Brittan in for questioning, despite him being terminally ill at the time.
Keith Vaz, Chairman of the House of Commons committee dealing with criminal matters told Watson he was “not Sherlock Holmes” and questioned why he was “micro-managing” police investigations. The pun led to a series of British newspaper headlines about Sherlock Holmes famous sidekick Dr John Watson.
Watson responded by apologizing to Lady Brittan for the "hurt caused" by his actions. In a statement he said of the allegation: "I'm sincerely sorry for repeating it. It was unnecessary. I'm sincerely sorry for the hurt caused to Lady Brittan. I felt at the time that some people's voices were not being heard but I'm sorry about that."
Lord Brittan had been Home Secretary in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, at the time when a report of a VIP pedophile ring in Westminster was made by a Conservative MP.
The file went missing, leading Brittan to be blamed for the loss, despite there being no evidence it was deliberately removed or destroyed. It was also unclear the file went missing during his tenure in the office, as no one had looked for them until 2012. In the 1990s the Home Office shredded a huge number of historic documents perceived to have little value.
Over the last few years Tom Watson set himself up as a campaigner to expose historical sexual abuse by British politicians. But the involvement of politicians in policing matters has been called into question by his actions, not least because his political rivals have been investigated at his behest.
British Police have been investigating large numbers of historic sexual abuse cases against celebrities after the death of TV presenter Sir Jimmy Saville in late 2011. When Saville died it became clear hundreds of women and children had complained about him, but police had failed to act.