For the Jewish News August 2 2019
The story of Carl Beech, the serial liar and predatory paedophile, would be repellent enough, were it not for the trail of misery he left behind him as he starts his 18-year prison sentence for perverting the course of justice and fraud.
As is now well-known, Beech – using the useful pseudonym of “Nick” – made a series of lurid allegations against a number of high-ranking politicians, claiming they were part of a “VIP paedophile ring” whose activities included child murder and rape. His claims led to a long-running Metropolitan Police investigation, Operation Midland, opened in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
But Operation Midland failed to find any evidence against those whom “Nick” accused, who included two Jewish parliamentarians, Lord Brittan and Lord Janner.
Both men died in 2015 before their names could be cleared, Leon Brittan, a former Conservative home secretary, and Greville Janner, a distinguished backbench Labour MP and community activist.
It’s hard not to curl a lip as those who persistently peddled “Nick’s” fantasies — including, shamefully, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, and the investigative journalist Mark Watts — dig themselves deeper and deeper following Beech’s conviction.
Watson, who sat and listened to Beech and his allegations and then raised the claims in Parliament, called Leon Brittan “as close to evil as any human being could get”. He did apologise to Diana, Lord Brittan’s widow. But it became clear during the trial that Beech himself had used almost the identical words about Brittan in an email. One can only speculate, therefore, as to where Watson happened across the description.
Now Watson defends his position by saying the “purpose of the meeting was to reassure him [Beech] that the police had assured me they would take him seriously if he made allegations”.
Mark Watts, meanwhile, from discredited news agency Exaro — maintained this week in Press Gazette that he had published Beech’s allegations in good faith and stood by the reports, adding that Exaro “never asserted” Beech’s claims were true “because it was not possible to judge one way or the other at that stage”.
Oh, well, that’s OK then. Watson and Watts can sleep at night. Unlike, that is, the families of those accused whose names were made public and who, until Beech’s conviction last week, have gone through six years of hell.
The Janner family – sisters Marion and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, and their QC brother Daniel – is a case in point.
Beech claimed – and repeated in court – that Janner raped him in London’s Carlton Club. In fact, as Daniel Janner has repeatedly made clear, such an attack supposedly took place when his late father was in Australia. But this does not seem to have mattered to investigating police officers.
In distressing post-trial interviews, Marion Janner said she had had to leave her home in London while Rabbi Laura, struggling to lead the Reform Movement and defend her father, said she had had suicidal thoughts.
Rabbi Laura also said she thought the Jewish community had been “wonderful”, but I am not so sure.
It seems fitting, now that Beech’s lies have been exposed in court, that the community which Greville Janner served so assiduously — as president of the Board of Deputies, as founder of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Commonwealth Jewish Council — should do something to revive his good name.
Otherwise, the repulsive “Nick” will have won.