A convicted paedophile has been found guilty of making false allegations of murder and child sexual abuse against a string of public figures.
Carl Beech, 51, from Gloucester, was found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
His lies led to a £2m Metropolitan Police investigation which ended in no arrests or charges being made.
Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court took a day to reach their verdicts following a 12-week trial.
Former NSPCC volunteer Beech, who denied the charges, did not react as the verdicts were delivered. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Known in media reports as “Nick”, Beech accused senior politicians as well as army and security chiefs of sadistic sexual abuse and said he had witnessed boys being murdered in the 1970s and 1980s.
The two-year long Met investigation which resulted from his allegations – Operation Midland – closed in March 2016.
Indecent image charges
Beech, a former paediatric nurse, was later referred for investigation by Northumbria Police after a report into Operation Midland by a retired High Court judge.
Detectives then discovered that Beech was himself a paedophile and, in January this year, he pleaded guilty to possessing hundreds of indecent images of children and voyeurism.
During tearful interviews with police, Beech falsely alleged his late stepfather, an army major, had raped him and passed him on to the public figures to be tortured at military bases and sexually abused.
He named former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, former Labour MP Lord Janner and ex-MI6 boss Sir Maurice Oldfield.
The count of fraud related to a £22,000 criminal injuries payout he falsely claimed for being raped by TV presenter Jimmy Savile.
Beech falsely claimed the ex-MP Harvey Proctor was directly involved in the murder of two boys – one of which also falsely implicated the former head of MI5, Sir Michael Hanley.
He also fabricated a claim about another boy being deliberately run over and that someone who might have been a missing teenager called Martin Allen had been killed in front of him.
‘Disgraceful chapter in policing’
Beech’s allegations led to the homes of several men being raided by police, including those belonging to Normandy veteran Field Marshall Lord Bramall as well the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Mr Proctor.
The court has previously heard how, at the time, the Met publicly described Beech’s allegations as “credible and true”.
Mr Proctor, whose home was searched, called the investigation “a truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing”.
He blamed it on “internal failings at the highest level within the Metropolitan Police Service”.
The Met Police’s deputy commissioner, Sir Stephen House, accepted his force “did not get everything right”, but said all officers investigated by the police watchdog in relation to Beech’s case had been found to have been working “in good faith”.
He said the Met would strive to identify any additional lessons it could learn from the case – adding that sexual offences cases were a “complex and challenging” part of police work, particularly when allegations related to historic sex abuse.
As well as criticising the Met Police, Mr Proctor criticised Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who met Beech in 2014 and discussed the allegations. Mr Watson “gave oxygen” to Beech’s allegations, Mr Proctor claimed.
Mr Watson said he hoped the case does not prevent survivors of child sexual abuse going to the police.
In a statement, Mr Watson said: “It was not my role to judge whether victims’ stories were true. I encouraged every person that came to me to take their story to the police and that is what I did with Nick.
“I hope this trial, and the case of one person, does not prevent survivors of child sexual abuse coming forward and reporting their experiences to the police.”
In 2014, the BBC broadcast an interview with Beech – whose identity was kept hidden – as well as with police investigating the case.
In a statement issue after the trial verdict, the BBC said it had “reported serious allegations, in the public interest, which were the basis of a police murder investigation, and which the police later described as ‘credible and true'”.
It added: “Carl Beech has since been exposed as a fantasist and serial liar, not least by an investigation from the BBC’s Panorama.
“We express our utmost sympathy to those falsely accused by Beech and to the family of Martin Allen.”
After delivering their verdicts on Monday, the judge Mr Justice Goss thanked the jury for their “exceptional care and diligence” and said they would be excused from any more jury service for 10 years.
Meanwhile, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has cleared three detectives following an investigation into how the Met Police applied for warrants to raid the homes of Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and Mr Proctor.
“The allegations Nick made were grave and warranted investigation and we believe those involved in applying for the search warrant acted with due diligence and in good faith at the time,” the IOPC’s Jonathan Green said.
‘Shocked and appalled’
In his volunteering role at the NSPCC, Beech went into primary schools and presented workshops and assemblies about children keeping themselves safe from abuse.
He volunteered for the NSPCC’s School Service department from November 2012 until July 2015. He stopped volunteering for the NSPCC more than a year before police began to investigate him for perverting the course of justice and fraud.
The NSPCC said Beech had no connection with the charity when the offences came to light.
It said its volunteers were subject to “strenuous and thorough” safeguarding checks, adding: “We are shocked and appalled by today’s verdicts and hope Beech’s actions don’t prevent other abuse survivors from getting the justice they deserve.”