The case of R v Beech represents a watershed in British criminal justice. It is an extraordinary case which ran at Court 1, Newcastle Crown Court before Mr Justice Goss from 7 May until 26 July 2019 this year. It is only right to record some initial impressions of this momentous case.
On Friday 26 July 2019, the defendant, Carl Stephen Beech, was sentenced to eighteen years’ imprisonment, of which fifteen relate to twelve counts of perverting the course of justice, by making reports to the British police about imaginary abuse by imaginary elite paedophile rings, and one count of fraudulently claiming criminal injuries compensation. A six-man, six-woman jury had delivered a verdict of Guilty on Monday 22 July. Five jurors returned to see him sentenced.
In addition, Beech received a number of other sentences, amounting to a total of three years, for five counts of possessing or making indecent images of children, one of voyeurism (involving his minor son’s best friend), and two counts of absconding from his earlier trial for indecent images last year.
Beech’s victims had to wait a long time to get justice, but justice was undoubtedly done on this occasion, following a marathon 11 weeks of evidence and legal submissions. After Beech was sent down for the last time, Mr Justice Goss complimented the prosecution team on their presentation. He also indicated that he would be making official commendations of the officers from Northumbria Police and Gloucestershire Police, whose diligence had uncovered Beech’s crimes.
The press attended in force and had a field day. It appeared that some newspapers were ordering transcripts of the evidence to ensure verbatim reports. Since Beech had previously had the Daily Mail prosecuted for reproducing his photograph, a degree of caution in ensuring absolute accuracy in reporting was understandable. The court permitted live tweeting.
Into the frozen North
The case opened with video footage, taken by a drone, of Beech’s Swedish hideaways deep in the forests of Northern Sweden, close to the Finnish and Russian borders. Why would someone from Gloucestershire want to move to a snowy fastness, close to Russia? When he was finally apprehended at Gothenberg station, Beech was carrying several mobiles, a knife and a length of rope. This is sinister.
Beech’s chief publicist, the notorious Mark Watts (ex-Editor in Chief of the equally infamous “fake news” portal Exaro), attended each day of the trial. Initially, he sat in an annexe which the court had provided for journalists who could not get a seat in the press bench. But then he ventured into court, sitting at the back of the press bench. He only ever referred to Beech as “Nick” – the nickname which Exaro gave Beech, when he first went public with his sensational and wildly improbable claims.
The bearded Mark Conrad, another former Exaro correspondent, and seemingly the fons et origo of Beech’s claims against named individuals sat next to Watts one afternoon, early on in the case. Thereafter, he was not seen again.
When the guilty verdicts were given, Watts looked shaken. He then issued a bizarre statement, claiming that there had been a mistrial.
So who is Carl Beech? It is fair to describe him as a person displaying psychopathic traits: in particular grandiosity, lack of remorse, and glibness. Born in 1968, he is now aged 51. His father left his mother, a woman from a gentrified background in Wales, a few months after he was born. The Gass marriage did not prosper, and Beech’s mother Charmaine remarried when Carl was aged 8.
The British Army
At that time, her new husband Major Ray Beech worked at Headquarters UK Land Forces at Erskine Barracks in Wilton, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Beech Sr. was a deeply troubled man and an alcoholic. He had three children by a previous marriage. He had initially trained as a pilot, but his flying career had not prospered. After a crash, he was moved into non-aerial duties. He also had served in Northern Ireland, where the Provisional IRA offensive was taking off. His assaults on his unfortunate wife, and later his house-keeper, were known to his superiors.
After his divorce, he met Charmaine Gass (née Samuels) who unwisely accepted his proposal of marriage, and moved in with him, along with her son Carl. Later she told police that Beech’s first wife had warned her of his violence, but she took no heed, assuming that the first wife was ill-motivated. That was a mistake.
Military records examined by Wiltshire Police showed that no sooner had Carl and his mother moved into married quarters in April 1976, problems began. Beech drank heavily and was violent towards his new wife, on one occasion tearing a cross from her neck and ripping her clothes. He even once threatened to sexually assault her (though he did not carry out his threat). It must have been a horrendous experience for the new wife and her young son.
To her credit, Charmaine fled with Carl to Bicester in August 1976, and obtained an injunction from the family courts. Ray Beech broke the order, turning up at their new house in Bicester. The police then arrested him, and he never reappeared. The Army dismissed him the following year, after he was diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Carl Beech later claimed that he deliberately stopped his mother having a relationship with anyone else, by acting up and misbehaving. Whilst to a degree this is understandable, one is left with a disturbing picture of a manipulative son who could dominate his mother’s life, to the extent of denying her a satisfactory relationship with a new partner. Beech’s career as a life-wrecker had begun.
Memories of Beech’s friends
Beech’s schooldays were unremarkable. One neighbour’s son, who used to play with him on a local building site, recalled that Beech’s mother drove an MG. Beech was later to incorporate this playmate into his sick sexual fantasies. When Aubrey and his mother were eventually tracked down by police, they confirmed that Aubrey had never suffered abuse by anyone, and certainly not by a shadowy paedophile ring which Beech later named “the Group”.
As Harvey Proctor was later to comment in his police interviews, Beech’s family snaps showed a smiling, happy child. One picture of a beaming Carl with strawberry blonde hair –shown again and again in court – began to resemble a grinning Cheshire Cat, hovering over the proceedings.
One of Beech’s schoolfriends after they moved to Kingston described him as “one of the good kids”. This friend, Jonathan Budd, was the boy whose name came after Beech’s when the school register was taken, as it was twice a day. He could not recall any unexplained absences of Beech from school. He could not recall any unexplained injuries.
Budd even went on holiday a number of times with Beech and his mother, whom he described as a lovely lady. Budd (who gave evidence by videolink) recalled a delicious roast chicken dinner which she had cooked. Another schoolfriend named Stephen said that the three boys used to work in the school library at lunchtime. Beech claimed not to remember either of them. He also claimed to have only two recollections of his mother during his alleged abuse period (ages 7-15), despite living with her as the only child of a single parent.
No medical evidence
As his medical records showed, Beech’s only visit to hospital acute services during childhood followed a skiing injury, when he fractured his ankle. His mother also referred him to his doctor, because he was overweight.
Yet later Beech was to allege that he had been hospitalised for two weeks with a brain haemorrhage, following a violent beating and rape by his step-father. He claimed that a nurse told him that but for copious bleeding from his anus, his brain bleed would have been worse. This is preposterous.
Beech’s NHS GP records showed an unremarkable medical history. Beech even rang his doctor’s surgery one day, to complain about a blister on his little toe! Despite being a qualified nurse, he claimed he did not know what to do. He had no suitable footwear, he complained. The surgery advised him to acquire some.
How did Beech’s fantasies of brutal assaults begin to germinate? In his “achieving best evidence” (ABE) recorded interviews with the police, a possible alternative “backstory” seemed to lurk, involving a deeply conflicted gay man, unable to admit his orientation to his deeply religious mother (who subsequently became a vicar), who may have been picked up by strangers for casual sex during his teens, and who may even have experienced serious and humiliating assaults.
He spoke of being raped in public toilets, and even in Richmond Park, where he and his mother used to walk their dogs. He also told police that after the abuse stopped at age fifteen, he used to hang around outside Richmond Station, awaiting another pick-up by “the Group.” In one truly surreal moment, he claimed that when the abuse stopped, it left a huge hole in his life!
Looking into the darkness
But as the trial wound on, with senior army personnel explaining patiently how small boys could not have got anywhere near top generals to be raped in their offices, it assumed a very much darker tone.
The constant iteration of accounts of brutal sexual assaults – even though they were concocted – had a progressively disturbing impact. (One survivor of childhood assault told me afterwards he had to take a shower at the end of a day in court; another needed Diazepam, to sit through such deeply unpleasant accounts). The prosecution was careful not to dwell on the gory details more than absolutely necessary, though given the lurid and sadistic nature of Beech’s claims, this was not an easy task.
When the case began, the jury was told that they would no doubt want to know what his motivation was in acting as he had. One possible motive, suggested the Crown’s QC, was attention-seeking.
It became increasingly apparent that Beech was a devious, disturbed, manipulative and dangerous man. Whatever may have happened to him in his childhood could not begin to excuse his subsequent conduct.
He simply made things up as he went along. Thus, when asked by what means Saudi diplomats had transported him to Paris for abuse, he paused for a while and then said: “by a Boeing 747”. Mr Justice Goss’ face was a picture.
As Beech sought to defend charges of lying to police by admitting innumerable lies to the police, his capable and hard-working legal team variously stared expressionless at the ceiling, as though looking for divine inspiration; held their chins whilst addressing their questions to him, whilst avoiding looking at him, or buried themselves in their files. By the end, the jury looked thoroughly shell-shocked.
Beech’s ex-wife Dawn, who gave evidence behind a screen, told the court that Beech would have liked her to have been pregnant, when he walked her down the aisle. He showed no fear of water on their honeymoon and various holidays, despite claiming that assaults in baths and pools had left him afraid of having his head under water.
Indeed, the prosecution tried unsuccessfully to introduce extracts from about six hours of video footage which Beech had filmed with an underwater camera, of his son and his son’s friend in various pools and waterparks. Worryingly, those boys’ faces appeared to provide a template for Beech’s e-fits of two boys whom he falsely claimed that he had seen murdered in his youth. Another example of Beech leading police up the garden path.
Beech’s first encounter with mental health services arose during his nurse training in 1989. He undertook counselling, arranged by the hospital where he was training. He claimed to have been largely mute during these sessions, but disclosed abuse by his step-father. The counsellor assured him that this was not his fault. There matters appear to have been left. He showed Dawn, whom he was later to marry, a letter to his mother speaking of this alleged abuse. Dawn told the court that, as a student, Beech never stopped playing Madonna’s “Oh Father”.
Later, Beech and his wife sought counselling for what were delicately termed “intimacy issues”. They were not explored at the trial, though in a subsequent press interview Dawn explained that sexual contact between the couple was limited. She also told the court that Beech had problems with personal hygiene.
Dawn and Beech separated in 2010, with Beech retaining custody of their only son. Dawn moved out. They divorced in 2012.
Enter a therapist
Beech embarked on what became an astonishing four and a half years of counselling, from February 2012 to December 2016. He embraced the persona of a “survivor” of a paedophile ring. He joined an online community called Reaching Survivors of Sexual Abuse or RSOSA, ostensibly founded by a woman calling herself Kate Swift. This was a pseudonym. (The real Kate Swift was an American feminist author, who died in 2011).
RSOSA ran a blog called “This Tangled Web”, and amongst other things organised coffee mornings for survivors in Richmond. In 2011, and again in 2012, “Swift” published two collections of poems and seemingly autobiographical accounts by people identifying as survivors of childhood abuse: Silent No More and Growing Stronger, Growing Free. The second collection features Carl’s “Cheshire cat” photo, and names him as “Carl”. The introduction is written by a therapist-survivor, who describes its role as inspiring those on a journey to recovery. The editor comments: “This is not intended to be a textbook or a blueprint for your own recovery…..”.
Beech’s counsellor, Vicki Patterson, was extremely guarded in what she told the court. She kept limited notes. There was no treatment plan. She did not, it seems, seek any medical or psychiatric input. She stated that she would not have offered him counselling if it did not appear to be working, or if she considered that he was not genuine. The latter explanation is rather disconcerting, given the increasingly extravagant and brutal nature of Beech’s accounts, which included being transported for abuse sessions by helicopter with his dog, as well as a witnessing a series of child murders. How unhinged do a person’s claims have to be, before a counsellor stops believing them?
The “body maps” which he sent her, purporting to show the myriad ways in which he was abused – wasps, beatings, fractures, burns, snake bites etc – should surely have been shared with his GP. (A Home Office pathologist later told the court that it was inconceivable that such injuries, if inflicted as he claimed, could have left not a single trace).
Patterson told the court, rather lamely it must be said, that she was helping Beech with his emotions. Beech denied expressing emotion in her sessions with him, claiming that he cried in the car instead.
Even more disturbingly, Beech said that he started keeping a series of journals, purportedly describing his experiences and feelings, at Patterson’s suggestion. By the time he went to the Metropolitan Police again in 2014, he had amassed five of these, which he used to take along to his police interviews.
Incredibly, the Met never asked to examine this ostensibly direct evidence, though on one occasion an officer copied 20 pages, including childish drawings of black demons with claws encircling a small figure, with slogans like “Please no more”, and red dots presumably signifying blood. It appeared that what Beech was recounting was a form of Satanic Ritual Abuse, in all but name. This should have raised some questions.
Unfortunately, the Met was using Dr Elly Hanson, a psychologist from a “born again” Christian family, who even corresponded with one of Beech’s imaginary friends named “Fred”, on the Met’s behalf.
The homicide squad’s failure to examine Beech’s journals thoroughly is utterly remiss, especially when Beech was accusing all manner of eminent persons, ranging from Sir Jim Callaghan to David Steel, the American Ambassador to London, and top military and intelligence personnel. Harvey Proctor and Sir Leon Brittan were, according to Beech, two of his most violent assailants. Even Eric Pickles put in an appearance.
As none of the persons whom Beech accused had any forensic history, it should surely have occurred to the Met early on that Beech was an attention-seeking fantasist, who was talking complete nonsense. The Met even managed to lose some of its interviews with Beech, which again does not inspire confidence. (Possibly they were the ones where he claimed he was abducted by aliens?).
Worse, these journals have since disappeared. Northumbria Police tried to locate them. Beech’s solicitor told the CPS that they were no longer in existence. Beech told the court that his counsellor had advised him to burn them. If this were true, surely she should be arrested?
Copy to die for
The joy of the Press bench at Beech’s trial was evident, as day after day they rushed out of court to file their copy. “MI5 kidnapped my dog”, “I was a human dartboard”, and “Trapped in a cupboard with snakes” are headlines which Max Clifford would have loved to pitch.
But I must turn back to Beech’s journey into the abyss. In 2012, he had been ingratiating himself with Pete Saunders of National Association of People Abused in Childhood, or NAPAC. Saunders claims to be a survivor of abuse by (variously) a family friend, teachers, and priests. At the time, NAPAC was something of a fringe group, which also evinced a fascination with ritual abuse. It had ambitions, however, and expanded its sphere of influence on the back of the Jimmy Savile scandal, which broke on 3 October 2012.
Beech had already submitted a poem to NAPAC which featured in its autumn newsletter using his real name. This deployed his now infamous simile about children being passed around rapists like sweets in a bag.
Within a couple of weeks after the Savile scandal erupted, Tom Watson MP told an astonished House of Commons that he had “clear intelligence” of a paedophile ring extending into the heart of government, which the police should investigate. The look of incredulity on PM David Cameron’s face said it all.
Watson’s dubious source was Peter McKelvie, a retired child protection officer with a bee in his bonnet about alleged police cover-ups. Watson set up a working party, to which McKelvie and others contributed.
Beech also got onto the Savile bandwagon, contacting first the Met and then Wiltshire Police. Pete Saunders then put him in touch with the makers of a TV documentary about Savile, on the pretext that it was important to show that Savile abused boys as well as girls. Beech’s career as a celebrity victim was beginning to take shape. He gave Wiltshire Police an account of abuse by his step-father, Savile and some unnamed diplomats.
As the first two accused were both dead, that did not give Wiltshire Police much to go on. In fact, they seem to have done a reasonably efficient job in talking to Major Beech’s former employer and the Foreign Office. They marked the alleged crimes “undetected”.
Beech also made contact with an American author, Timmy Fielding, who had recently penned a two-volume memoir purporting to detail life in a child porn ring. Fielding’s books are entitled “Untold Secrets: How I Survived a Child Porn Ring” and “Silent Victim: Growing up in a Child Porn Ring”.
In 2013, Beech penned his own misery memoir in 34 chapters, “Too Many Secrets: Surviving A Child Sex Ring”. He dedicated this to his son. As Northumbria Police later noted, there are marked similarities between Beech’s book and Fielding’s: such as pool parties; the use of restraints; a boy being raped on a table, and a doctor among the group of assailants, who provides first aid to boy victims.
Beech also began blogging on “This Tangled Web” and publishing poems recounting the abuse of children. One of his blogs detailed the strangulation of a child. During 2014, his accounts of extreme abuse by a mysterious group of powerful people attracted McKelvie’s attention, as well as that of Mark Conrad, a former financial journalist now working for an odd Internet agency calling itself “Exaro”. Beech also acquired a mad fanbase, mainly female, who later claimed to “believe Nick”.
Beech was on Twitter tweeting as Carl_Survivor and Carl_Chassereau, and then set up his own blog as Carl Chass. Conrad had a number of meetings with Beech, whom he later claimed he believed because Beech was middle-class and in full-time work.
Conrad and McKelvie also met up with Beech in Bristol. Conrad was armed with 42 photographs which he gave Beech, who duly obliged by identifying some of them as his powerful abusers. He drew up a list of alleged abusers, including unnamed bishops and policemen (the latter, apparently, were identifiable by their handcuffs).
A policeman’s lot
The Met “reached out” to Beech via Exaro, and he and Conrad met the Met to see if Beech felt comfortable talking to them. Presumably they did not bring their handcuffs. Perhaps they should have done?
McKelvie was doing his own spin-doctoring, giving interviews to the BBC claiming credit for a police inquiry and May’s announcement early in July 2014 of an inquiry into claims of paedophile activities in Parliament, hospitals, the BBC, the NHS, churches, firms and other public institutions.
Exaro had been badgering for this inquiry, as had a number of rather gullible MPs including John Mann and Simon Danczuk. McKelvie raved to anyone who would listen about an Establishment cover-up of “decades of sexual abuse by former MPs and Government ministers” involving at least 20 high-profile persons. “We are looking at the Commons, we are looking at the Lords, we are looking at the judiciary…..” intoned McKelvie, who also alleged (conveniently for Beech) that the Armed Forces were implicated as well.
His first of two Express features uses a photograph of a long-haired child bearing a remarkable resemblance to Beech’s son. Presumably McKelvie / the Express got it from Beech? No doubt they can clarify.
How fortunate that Carl was fully prepped and had a list typed up, ready to hit newstands! McKelvie was subsequently, for a while, appointed as a panellist to said inquiry, until his obsession with outing Tory paedos finally got him sacked.
So boosted by Conrad and McKelvie, Beech duly went to the Met with his shopping list of VIPs, and what the Met named “Operation Midland” got underway. Beech was given the pseudonym “Nick”. Conrad had thoughtfully taken Beech on a walkabout in London past some locations which Beech later identified as scenes of his abuses, such as Dolphin Square.
Beech’s “attack dogs”
Exaro utilised a support network of fake online identities to promote Beech’s claims, using the hashtag “VIPaedophiles”. Some also used the hashtag “paedobritain”. When others (including me) had the temerity to question Beech’s bizarre claims, Exaro accused critics of failing to support survivors, branding us spooks, paedophiles or paedo-apologists! Watts also tweeted about “dark forces”.
On the ground, any survivor summoned to discuss the inquiry with the Home Office, who met and queried Beech, was given the Third Degree by McKelvie (who claimed that Beech was “probably the bravest person I have met”) and other Exaro True Believers such as Graham Wilmer MBE. “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again” was the message to doubters. It was vicious. (I had some experience of this, as I developed the hashtag “ToxicNick”). Wilmer, for example, used the slur “team paedo” to demonise critics – and even hinted that they would be arrested.
White Flowers 14/1/15
At a landmark meeting of the White Flowers campaign in Parliament on 14 January 2015, supported by the hard Left (such as ex-Militant Phil “In Unity Is Strength” Frampton, Mike Mansfield QC and Phil Shiner), the lunatic fringe turned out en masse, shouting about murderers walking Parliament’s corridors, and demanding heads on spikes. The same day, Tom Watson MP met with McKelvie, Beech, Esther Baker and Luke Payne. That must have been interesting.
Payne was formerly in care in Islington and is a convicted bomb-hoaxer, who claimed to have seen a mentally disabled boy murdered. He claimed to be a “trafficking survivor”.
A few months later, Baker (aka “Becky, staff writer at Exaro”) then went public with similarly lurid claims of VIP abuse at Cannock Chase and Dolphin Square. She also joined the Labour Party.
Meanwhile in August 2015 John Mann MP, one of the True Believers, went on to give a breathless interview to German TV, along with Baker and Watts:
“This was heavy, organised crime”, says Mann on the programme, broadcast yesterday on ARD. Standing across from Parliament, he adds: “I see people walking over there now who should be in prison. And there are people out there who know that.”
Phew. But as police have told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse earlier this year, there is no evidence of a Westminster paedophile ring. So Exaro’s disinformation efforts, courtesy of Australia, Russia and Germany, came to naught. Beech’s trial is the final nail in Exaro’s coffin.
Dolphin Square – again!
This location had previously been promoted by crazed conspiracy theorist David Icke. His The Biggest Secret (1999) speaks of Satanism, describes Heath as a shape-shifting reptilian, and asserts:
Over and over I have been told by survivors of how they were abused or programmed at the stately homes of the aristocracy or in rooms under the British Museum and other official buildings in London. Names of Conservative government ministers keep recurring in survivor’s [sic] accounts”.
Icke mentions Janner and Steel, whom Beech went on to accuse, and claims that Dolphin Square is another “notorious location for paedophile activities”.
Beech claimed to have been raped variously in a flat and at a pool party there. But he also claimed to have witnessed three children being murdered, two by Harvey Proctor.
This was to prove his downfall, as murder involves slightly more by way of evidence than mere assertion or, as the Met once told a person whom they were calling about Paul Gambaccini, “people who agree”.
Two abiding features of Beech’s accounts to police (and later to the court) were an absence of any real detail or of any strong emotion. All the places in which he had been raped had no distinguishing features – apart from a “sliding cooker” on Edward Heath’s yacht! – nor did his assailants, apart from being “white” and “normal”. (Though he did come up with two foreign men with hooked noses, whom he claimed were Saudi diplomats). He described his repeated abuse as “the usual”. His demeanour in court and in the witness-box was dead-pan.
Beech’s lack of trauma was seemingly what attracted Mark Conrad. But real victims of abuse are typically damaged, often hostile and lacking in trust, and do not repeat mantra-like generic accounts as Beech did. Conrad’s ignorance and prejudice about real victims of sexual abuse was rank.
According to Beech, the drivers who collected him from school to be abused in posh locations never said anything. He even claimed not to have seen Savile’s face. He used the words “evil” and “sadistic” to describe Savile and, later, Brittan and Proctor. According to Beech, Greville Janner was unremarkable by comparison.
But Ted Heath was kind to him, taking him to a non-existent double bed in a non-existent cabin on the Morning Cloud to console Beech after he cried because he didn’t want to go out on the water………one wonders what Peter McKelvie, who hated Tories, made of this!
Following his previous report to Wiltshire Police, Beech had applied for criminal injuries compensation, and like Topsy his story grew and grew. The Met dutifully drove Beech around London’s West End and various army locations in Wiltshire. At times, Beech claimed to have a “funny feeling”. Sometimes he shed tears. What the Met did not realise was that he had been researching locations and persons whom he accused on the internet. He was putting on an act.
Axes to grind
However, the Met knew that Conrad had shown Beech photographs of people, some of whom he proceeded to accuse, and had already taken him to various locations. This should have aroused suspicions that Beech was being prompted by others with axes to grind, not least the placing of sensational stories about alleged VIP abuse into the public domain.
And this is precisely what occurred. As Matthew Scott, a leading legal blogger, later pointed out, such leaking effectively scuppered the prospects of any potential prosecution. He also commented that it looked as if Exaro were leading the way, with the police desperately scrambling to keep up.
Not content with Exaro, Beech and McKelvie hooked up with the BBC. Tom Symonds, its Home Affairs correspondent, and Tom Bateman, met them at a hotel in Gloucestershire. Symonds wanted to link Beech’s stories to two cold cases. Symonds showed Beech two photographs. One concerned an Asian child, Vishal Mehotra, whose body was discovered months after he had disappeared on the day of Princess Diana’s wedding. Beech did not react to this.
Another involved a missing boy named Martin Allen. When Symonds showed Beech this photograph, Beech left the room and declined to continue the meeting. (I suspect it was because the Allen picture reminded him of his own son, who has a similar round face and dark brown hair).
The Met later told Newcastle Crown Court that this amateurish attempt at identification rendered their homicide investigation fundamentally flawed.
This raises the obvious question of why the Met simply ploughed on regardless. I am puzzled, though, why Conrad’s showing of photographs to Beech did not render the historic child abuse investigation similarly flawed.
We now know that Beech was downloading child pornography himself during this period, offences later discovered by Gloucestershire police after they arrested him on 2 November 2016, two days after Sir Richard Henriques had submitted his damning investigation into the Met’s botched Operation Midland.
Beech’s biggest mistake
Beech met his comeuppance in the former Conservative MP for Billericay, Harvey Proctor. A gay man who had been living quietly with his Irish partner on the Belvoir Estate, working for the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, Proctor had been the subject of a gay sex scandal back in the day, when Mrs Thatcher was the Conservative PM.
He had pleaded guilty to offences of gross indecency – the infamous law used to convict Oscar Wilde – because he had had consensual encounters with two young men under the age of 21, which was the then differential age of consent for gay men, post-Wolfenden. (The Government has since announced that such convictions can be cancelled).
It was bad enough to be accused by Beech of raping a much younger boy, but Proctor understandably was outraged and horrified at Beech’s additional claims that he had murdered not one, but two other boys! Proctor, further incensed by a heavy-handed police raid of his home which was – predictably – leaked to the world at large, decided to go on the offensive, with spectacular results.
Proctor called a press conference on 25 August 2015, in which he detailed Beech’s unhinged claims, including one that Ted Heath had stopped Proctor from cutting off a boy’s balls. “If you are of a sensitive disposition, leave now”, Proctor told an astonished audience of journalists, before spending two hours regaling them with Beech’s revolting fantasies.
The tide turned immediately. Fleet Street’s finest started asking awkward questions. Beech went into meltdown. It served him right, too. And the Met.
BBC’s “Panorama” broadcast a devastating expose in October 2015, despite police attempts to stop the broadcast. The producer of “Panorama”, Alistair Jackson, discovered from speaking to Beech’s ex-wife that the Met’s homicide detectives had not even bothered to contact her. What a shambles.
It was the beginning of the end for Beech, hoaxer and conman. The resultant public outcry led to the Met dropping Operation Midland some months later, fatally wounded by the absence of any supporting witnesses for Beech in his prurient concatenation of lies.
The Met commissioned Sir Richard Henriques, a retired senior judge, to report. That report – mostly kept under wraps – made very uncomfortable reading. Exaro wound itself up, doubtless to avoid legal action. And Mark Watts and Mark Conrad found themselves out of a job.
Now Beech is serving an eighteen-year sentence for his wicked stalking of innocent men with grotesque and false claims of heinous crimes which, as the Victim Impact Statements given to Newcastle Crown Court on Friday showed, had caused deep and lasting harm.
Mr Justice Goss made clear that the sentence has to have a deterrent effect.
And, please God, it will.
Up-dated 30 July 2019.