In a radio interview yeseterday morning Ms Patel refused to publicly support Dame Cressida over the Metropolitan police force’s bungled handling of VIP child sex abuse claims. The Met chief is facing calls to quit after Lady Brittan, widow of Tory ex-Home Secretary Leon, attacked a “culture of cover-up” in the force. Lord Brittan, 75, died in 2015, not knowing there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him over false claims of a Westminster sex abuse ring.
When Ms Patel was repeatedly asked by Nick Ferrari on LBC whether she had confidence in Dame Cressida, she would only say: “I work with the commissioner. The commissioner does a lot of great work and she oversees the largest police force in the country.
There are still questions, rightly so – some questions have been put to me today, actually, very publicly in newspapers, and it’s right that I also look at these questions.”
Ms Patel’s spokesman later insisted: “As the Home Secretary said, she works with Cressida Dick every day.
“The Home Secretary has full confidence in her to do her job.”
Downing Street added: “This was a deeply concerning case and the PM’s thoughts are with Lady Brittan, her late husband and others affected. The Prime Minister has complete confidence in the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, as does the Home Secretary.
They are working together to reduce crime and protect the public from the threats posed by serious criminals, terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic.”
Also yesterday, a retired High Court judge called for a criminal investigation into five detectives at the centre of the bungled VIP sex inquiry.
In an open letter, Sir Richard Henriques said the Yard’s disastrous Operation Midland had “gravely damaged” confidence in the justice system. He urged Ms Patel to order an investigation by an independent police force.
Lord Brittan and former Premier Ted Heath were among men falsely accused by fantasist Carl Beech – then known as “Nick”. The serial liar and paedophile was jailed for 18 years in 2019 after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct found no evidence of misconduct or criminality by the officers during Operation Midland.