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15 Oct 2015

Andrew Smith discusses police handling of Westminster sex abuse claims in the FT

Concern mounts over police handling of Westminster sex abuse claims

George Parker, Helen Warrell and Jane Croft

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has partially apologised for his role in publicising unfounded rape allegations against Leon Brittan, the former home secretary, amid growing criticism of the way he and the police dealt with the case.

Lord Brittan died in January without being told by police there was no case to answer over an alleged rape in 1967, leaving a cloud of suspicion hanging over his reputation. The Metropolitan Police recognised this week that “clarity should have been provided at an earlier stage”.

Boris Johnson’s chastisement over the Leon Brittan case has not prevented the Met from hitting back against media reporting of its troubled Operation Midland investigation.

Earlier this week, the force said it had “serious concerns” about a Panorama programme broadcast on Monday that featured one witness, a man, known as David, saying he may have been led into making abuse claims by campaigners.

Andrew Smith, partner at Corker Binning, said: “There is a difficult balance to be struck between encouraging victims to come forward and scrutinising their accounts, but I do agree that there seems to be pressure on the authorities to prosecute historic sex abuse cases and the pendulum may have swung too far the other way when it comes to investigating the reliability of the allegations.”

Read the full article on the FT here.


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