This is a story about a dirty, lying little man named Carl Beech. It's also about a lot of people who were conned by him into not doing their jobs properly. It's about innocent men whose lives were ruined by complete bullshit. And it's about a country that threw out it's most cherished values in order to seem more "sensitive."
This story, although it does end with the bad man going to jail, will never have a happy ending. No story like it ever does.
Carl Beech is the prototypical new man of the 21st century. He knows how to press our buttons and take advantage of our darkest fears. He knows we are more concerned with feelings than fact. And he knows we will do a great deal to placate anyone who wears the placard "VICTIM" around their neck.
We have decided we do not need proof. We have decided that 800 years of painfully won legal protections can be dispensed with, in the service of "sensitivity." Carl Beech, and those like him, will be the only ones to benefit. He, and the lawyers, journalists, and police officers who ride his bullshit elevator to the top floor.
Carl Beech was a mid-level bureaucrat in the British healthcare system and the product of a troubled childhood. He took advantage of the national outcry in the UK over the shameful tale of TV host Jimmy Savile's serial sexual abuse to fabricate a very elaborate tale.
In Beech's saga, he, and other young men, had been the victim of abuse by a "VIP Ring" of powerful men, who abused, tortured, and even sometimes murdered children in the 1970s and 1980s. This VIP Ring had many powerful members. Judges. Senior police. Generals. Members of Parliament. Prime Ministers.
In 2012, Beech approached the Metropolitan Police, who had launched Operation Yewtree to investigate the odious Savile, to spin his lurid tales. Given the geographical location of his allegations, the Met referred him to Wilshire Police. There, things began to go off the rails.
Some historical context here: One of the lasting after-effects of Op Yewtree was the shaming of the police. Many times, witnesses against Savile and other prominent men with BBC credentials were not listened to. There was a great reluctance to pursue prominent people.
I know all about this. In 1981, I was assaulted by the son of a rich local contractor, a man who had secured his convicted pedophile son a position as a "civilian advisor" to the local Navy League Cadet branch. This way, you see, he wouldn't have to undergo a background check.
The RCMP GIS officers who took my report didn't believe me. Or didn't care. Or were afraid of ruffling powerful feathers. But I had an ace up my sleeve. My father was an RCMP Sergeant. And he knew how to file a "Private Information." He forced the Crown to lay a charge.
They did, but only reluctantly. They charged my attacker with Common Assault, and did so summarily, ensuring that the most he could ever serve was six months in prison. You see, I'd escaped before he'd actually been able to bugger me. Although there was no doubt, could not have been, that this was his intention.
I testified, and I will never forget the trial judge sentencing my attacker to the maximum, regretting he could not give out a harsher sentence. This attacker still preys on young people today. I read about him being sentenced for similar crimes not too long ago. Such Leopards never change their spots.
I was lucky to have a policeman for a father, and a good one at that. This ordeal forms a central part of my novel Good Time Charlie. But there is something else I recall from this that is of relevance here.
The defense lawyer questioned me doggedly, but not, in retrospect, unfairly. As a 12-year-old boy, it had seemed a little much. I put this to my dad, who told me: "Son, that's his job. Everyone is entitled to a defense."
Everyone is entitled to a defense. How quaint this seems now. Because the pendulum, it seems, has swung too far. The seeds were sown for disaster in the UK when Carl Beech first sat down with the Wiltshire investigators. The seeds from a Yewtree.
Right from the start, the voice of another Carl, this one an astronomer named Sagan, should've been ringing in these copper's heads.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Beech claimed to have been abused by a ring of men, including Savile, with up to 20 members. 20 members? Most criminal conspiracies have a secret-keeping problem when membership reaches three. Not for nothing do the Hell's Angels say, "Three can keep a secret when two are dead."
People talk. And this must have been weighing on the minds on the Wiltshire investigators when they recommended "No further action." Someone retained a policeman's healthy skepticism.
But a funny thing then happened. Internet chat groups arose, with lurid tales of prominent men abusing children. The UK's ever voracious Sunday papers picked it up. And a very ambitious Labour MP named Tom Watson seized on historical sex abuse as a political issue.
Beech began to blog under the name "Carl Survivor." He claimed some fairly far-out things like he'd been shut up in a room with a wasp's nest by his abusers. An ambitious internet journalist picked up on this and got Beech to pick out pictures of his prominent abusers.
On the less-prominent ones, he was always somewhat fuzzy. An inconvenient detail. But that didn't stop Tom Watson, who encouraged Beech behind the scenes. Watson had triggered prior investigations and now flexed his muscles shamelessly. Now, in interviews, Beech had lots of names to share. All the way to the top.
The investigators now ate it all up. The Met's Operation Midland was now under full steam. What had changed?
One very simple thing, it turns out. The police had been told to believe the victims. A 2014 Home Office directive had told them to record alleged rapes as confirmed crimes as soon as an allegation had been made. No investigation required. BELIEVE.
It might seem odd for someone from my background to object to this, but please understand. I am a man. I am every bit as likely to be accused as to be victimized. I need the police to keep an open mind. Don't you?
But in Op Midland, they didn't. To the tune of 2.5 million pounds. They flew detectives to Australia to interview witnesses. They entertained the evidence of "Fred," a witness who refused a formal interview, and who later turned out to be Beech himself.
All the while, the media, and Watson, beat the war drums. And Beech showed off the Mustang GT he'd bought with 22,000 pounds in compensation. Before a trial had even been struck.
It was all going very well for Carl Beech until a single man stood up and said, loudly and clearly, "Fuck this shite." That man was one of the accused, Harvey Proctor MP. All Harvey had to do was read out the allegations, clearly displaying how absurd they were. Now, the media began to get skeptical, and the police retreated under fire.
Guess who the only pedophile was in this case? Yup. Carl Fucking Beech.
When Northumbria Police raided his flat, they found both downloaded child pornography on his computers, and disturbing evidence he'd been surreptitiously recording a young boy.
Quickly, the tables turned, and now Beech is where he belongs, finally. But what of those accused by him? Some were so old they died, or their spouses did before they could be exonerated. Harvey Proctor is suing the Met in court, but they still fight on, claiming against all evidence they did the right thing.
Listen. Cops arrest the wrong man sometimes. I've done it. But as soon as things stink, you let them go and apologize. You don't dig in and buy any evidence, however rotten. "Belief" has no place in a police station. We are not priests, dealing in certainty. We are scientists, dealing in evidence.
Remember Sagan: When the crimes are spectacular, so too must the evidence be. And always remember one other thing:
You are there to reveal the guilty and protect the innocent. When you destroy the life of a man like Harvey Proctor, you make him every bit as much a victim as I am. And that's how I regard him. A victim, not of real abuse, but of false abuse.
I told you there were no happy endings.