Outside police force to review Brittan inquiry

Former Cabinet minister Leon Brittan
Former Cabinet minister Leon Brittan
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The widow of former Cabinet member Lord Brittan should have been informed sooner that he would not have faced action over a rape allegation, Scotland Yard has admitted.

Investigating officers told his accuser in April that there would not have been a prosecution had the late peer and former North Yorkshire MP been alive, but his legal team were not told at the same time.

The Metropolitan Police yesterday published the key findings from a report ordered after the force apologised to Lady Brittan. It followed a furore over allegations raised by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.

Lord Brittan, MP for Cleveland & Whitby from 1974 to 1983 and for Richmond from 1983 to 1988, died in January without being told he had been cleared of a rape allegation.

The Met Police yesterday named Lord Brittan for the first time “because of the unique circumstances of the case”.

The force also disclosed that commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has asked a separate force to review the investigation to ensure it was thorough and properly conducted.

Its statement concluded: “The MPS accepts that Lord Brittan’s solicitors should have been informed at the same time as the complainant was informed.

“This would have permitted them to clarify the position with Lady Brittan, for which the MPS apologised in a letter to her solicitors on 6 October 2015. Relatives of people who die whilst under investigation would not normally be contacted after their death and would not be told what the outcome of the investigation would have been, or indeed whether it would have led to a charge or not.

“But the MPS recognises – as it did throughout the dialogue with the CPS – that the public interest in the case required a different approach.”

The investigation started when a woman known as “Jane” made an allegation to South Yorkshire Police in November 2012 that she was raped in London in 1967.

After an initial inquiry, an investigating officer from the Met decided no further action should be taken and informed the complainant in September 2013.

A review of the probe was ordered in April last year and the following month Lord Brittan was interviewed under caution at his solicitors’ office. He denied the offence, stating he did not believe he had ever met the complainant.

Requests were made for the CPS to review the evidence. A final response was received in June saying no request would not be reviewed, but by this stage police had already told the complainant there would not have been a prosecution had Lord Brittan been alive.

Separately, former child protection officer Peter McKelvie has resigned from his role advising the independent inquiry into child abuse, it emerged yesterday.He is seen as a key figure in the events leading up to the launch of the controversial police investigation into allegations of a VIP paedophile ring.