Hogan-Howe, 61, oversaw the Met’s catastrophic sex abuse probe that ruined the lives of VIPs
Cynics say that in public life, nothing succeeds quite like failure.
Indeed, in the week when the biggest debacle in the history of modern policing was condemned by a retired High Court judge, its architect, the former head of the Met, could be found enjoying his six-figure pension at his converted barn.
With stunning views of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the home was bought for about £1million in cash when Lord (Bernard) Hogan-Howe retired in 2017.
It has been re-modelled, with walled gardens containing, among other things, a wood-fired pizza oven and sits up a long bridleway where he and his wife ride horses which they keep at nearby stables.
This property is one of two luxury homes owned by the Hogan-Howes, whose other leisure activities include opera and skiing. They’ve also got a magnificent holiday apartment in the Valais canton of Switzerland.
Such are the trappings of serious wealth. For since retiring as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Hogan-Howe, only 61, has been entitled to a taxpayer-funded pension with a pot worth a reported £6 million (although friends say that figure is ‘grossly inflated’).
This week, when the Mail visited to ask about the disastrous police inquiry into alleged VIP sex abuse which happened during his time in charge, he tetchily stated: ‘Leave my property immediately!’
Despite his shortcomings he enjoys a £6million pension pot and owns two lavish homes. Pictured: Hogan-Howe walks his dog near his home in Wareham, Dorset, last month
We had wanted his reaction to devastating claims in the Mail by ex-High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques who called for a criminal investigation into how search warrants were obtained by his staff for raids on the homes of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, ex-Home Secretary Lord (Leon) Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
During this shameful episode, £2.5 million of public money was wasted, and the lives of innocent men and their families torn apart.
What is perhaps less easy to understand is his subsequent professional success. For having left the force, Hogan-Howe has accepted seven private sector positions.
They include ‘consultant’ roles across industries as varied as banking (for HSBC), insurance (for a firm called Towergate), computing (Excession Technologies) and security (the cyber-security firm Glasswall) and Guardiar, a company that makes fences.
He’s also done ‘TV and broadcasting’ work for American network NBC, and is on the books of the production company Tigerlily, for whom he recently made a Dispatches documentary about legalising cannabis.
To the dismay of the civil liberties lobby, he’s also an ‘adviser’ to Carbyne, an Israeli tech firm seeking to sell controversial tracking devices to the UK Government.
Meanwhile, and somewhat ironically given that he was the police chief who virtually criminalised most contact between his officers and the Press, Hogan-Howe also works at Powerscourt, a PR outfit offering ‘reputation management’ for powerful and often controversial clients.
All this while he’s already taking an estimated £180,000-a-year from a public sector pension.
Such a packed retirement portfolio for a former Met chief is unusual. His predecessor, Sir Paul Stephenson, only took two jobs after leaving (a racing fan, he’s regulatory director of the British Horse- Racing authority).
As a member of the House of Lords, Hogan-Howe is entitled to expenses.
In February, the last month for which records are available, he was given £3,355, having attended Parliament 12 times. Over the past year, his expenses bill was £21,642, for 82 appearances.
An ex-High Court judge called for a criminal investigation into how the Met handled false accusations about a string of high-profile men by fantasist Carl Beech (pictured)
Hogan-Howe has also pursued a lucrative sideline of public-speaking. He’s on the books of two agencies, Chartwell and the London Speaker Bureau, who have arranged for him to give talks — believed to be for five-figure fees — to U.S. arms firms, Indian police officers and a gathering of lawyers at Italy’s Lake Como (although anyone who has witnessed the Sheffield-born police chief’s wooden performance at a lectern might justifiably wonder what they’re paying for).
The websites of these agencies dub Hogan-Howe as a man whose ‘career has been characterised by high achievement’.
High achievement? Many would disagree. Particularly those blameless public figures appallingly wronged by the Operation Midland investigation into claims of a high-profile paedophile ring.
The botched inquiry, which ought to have been scrapped within weeks, revolved around the claims of fantasist Carl Beech, a compulsive liar whose claims were championed by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.
Last month, Beech was jailed for 18 years for perverting the course of justice, along with various fraud, voyeurism and paedophile offences.
Sir Richard Henriques (pictured) identified 43 separate failings by the police in his highly critical report
It must be stressed that Sir Richard Henriques himself wrote to Hogan-Howe, saying: ‘I trust that commentators will not place the blame for the grave mistakes in Operation Midland at your door . . . I wish you well in your retirement.’
But others feel very differently.
Harvey Proctor feels Hogan-Howe is ‘an exceptionally narcissistic and weak man’ whose decision to take so many private sector jobs has made him appear ‘too eager to join the gravy train rather than make good the damage over which he presided’ and that he appears to have ‘sought private sector jobs like a moth circling a light bulb’.
Proctor, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following his ordeal, describes the various roles that have come Hogan-Howe’s way as ‘rewards for failure’.
Also, following Beech’s jailing, he called for the former police chief to be stripped of his peerage.
Beech made allegations against Sir Edward Heath, too. Although Hogan-Howe did not preside over the investigation, the former Tory PM’s godson, Lincoln Seligman, blames Hogan-Howe for fuelling the hysteria that sparked it, saying he ‘presided over the worst policing disaster of recent times. You might think he would feel some responsibility . . . A prosperous retirement is usually seen as a just reward for a job well done. The opposite would appear to be true in this case’.
Another man who is incandescent about Hogan-Howe is respected radio DJ Paul Gambaccini. He was dropped temporarily by the BBC and subjected to what he calls a year-long ‘witch-hunt’ after detectives pursued false claims about him made by a known drug abuser.
Though the complainant eventually stopped co-operating with police and withdrew his claims within seven months, Gambaccini was kept on bail and suspended from his job for the best part of a year. He shares Proctor’s view that Hogan-Howe’s peerage should be revoked, saying he has ‘shamed his country and disgraced his profession’.
Among those wrongly alleged to have been child sex perverts was former Armed Forces chief Field Marshal Lord Bramall, 95
For his part, Hogan-Howe failed to volunteer himself for media interviews following the conviction of Beech a fortnight ago, and kept a low profile this week when Sir Richard Henriques took the astonishing step of claiming Operation Midland detectives obtained search warrants unlawfully, using false evidence.
Sir Richard, whose as-yet almost entirely unpublished 2016 inquiry into Operation Midland identified 43 separate blunders by Hogan-Howe’s force, wrote in the Mail, saying detectives who applied for those warrants had falsely told a district judge that Beech was a ‘consistent’ witness.
In fact, Sir Richard says, they knew Beech’s story was riven with inconsistencies, many of which had already been detailed in a documents they held.
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The former High Court judge also revealed the Met did not include their warrant applications in the documents disclosed to his 2016 inquiry and he had to approach a court directly to obtain them.
Surely such grave allegations from such a distinguished Establishment figure merit better from Hogan-Howe than the aforementioned rebuke to a reporter of ‘Leave my property immediately!’
That remark takes a certain chutzpah, given how his force ransacked the homes of innocent public figures — even seizing a Teletubbies DVD one of the men used to entertain grandchildren — then allowed details of the raids to be made public.
A brief assessment of Hogan-Howe’s Met career suggests, however, that the word ‘chutzpah’ could have been invented for him. He was appointed to the top job in British policing in 2011 in controversial circumstances.
Then London Mayor Boris Johnson reportedly favoured Sir Hugh Orde, the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers. But then Home Secretary Theresa May over-ruled him.
Hogan-Howe has always been a keen player of politics. He even popped up at Johnson’s leadership campaign launch, leading to speculation that the man with seven jobs and a pension was also angling for a job in government.
The first key test of his judgment was Operation Elveden — the investigation into tabloid newspaper journalists who’d received information from the police and other public officials.
Ex Tory MP Harvey Proctor had his home raided by police after being falsely accused by Beech of raping and murdering children
There were 34 arrests — mostly after dawn raids during which their homes were ransacked, often in front of their wives and children. Most were kept on bail for months, rendering them virtually unemployable.
Yet of the 29 eventually charged, only one was convicted. The cost to the taxpayer was £15 million.
The Society of Editors called the operation an ‘incredible fiasco’ in which reporters were treated ‘like drug-dealers or terrorists’.
The Press Gazette, Fleet Street’s trade newspaper, described it as ‘a shameful episode in the history of this country’s criminal justice system’.
Hogan-Howe never apologised.
Hogan-Howe, pictured, authorised 27 officers to devote 16 months to what is believed to be the first murder investigation in British history launched without any body having been found and without anyone able to properly name a victim
Then came ‘Plebgate’ in 2012 — a row over whether a Tory MP used the Latin word ‘plebs’ as an insult to police in Downing Street.
Hogan-Howe initially claimed he was ‘100 per cent behind his officers’ but then one was jailed for falsely claiming to have been at the scene and others were dismissed for leaking details about the case to the Press.
Hogan-Howe spent a reported £150,000 seeking to identify the source of the leak, while his force abused anti-terror laws to hack the phones of a journalist during the process.
Nothing, however, will ever approach the shambles of Operation Midland, launched in 2014 to investigate claims by a witness called ‘Nick’ — later identified as Carl Beech — that he was preyed on by a group of MPs, Cabinet ministers, top soldiers and intelligence chiefs who murdered three young men in his presence.
Hogan-Howe authorised 27 officers to devote 16 months to what is believed to be the first murder investigation in British history launched without any body having been found and without anyone able to properly name a victim. On the day of the searches, he used almost 100 officers.
In a breach of protocol, the basic detective’s rule of ‘assume nothing, check everything’ was thrown out of the window.
Hogan-Howe’s officers publicly announced that ‘Nick’s’ claims were ‘credible and true’ — a farcical and deeply prejudicial claim which he then allowed to stand uncorrected for almost a year.
They also failed to follow up a number of very basic lines of inquiry which could have demonstrated that ‘Nick’s’ claims were false but would also have revealed that he was a convicted paedophile — potentially saving further children from harm.
Following Beech’s eventual jailing, the son of Lord Bramall, whose elderly mother went to her grave with the matter unresolved, revealed Hogan-Howe had confessed ‘he’d never really believed Dad [Bramall] had been involved’ in the fictitious sex ring. Instead, he said his force had been ‘under pressure, following the Jimmy Savile scandal, to show no one was above the law’.
As so often in such public debacles, whistleblowers were meanwhile ignored.
Paul Settle, a former head of Scotland Yard’s paedophile unit, had spoken out against the ‘baseless witch-hunt’ of VIPs, but says he was forced out of his job.
He told the Mail he believes the Midland fiasco occurred due to ‘sheer incompetence’ and ‘weak leadership’.
To be fair, Sir Richard Henriques said Hogan-Howe should be exonerated from any wrongdoing over the disastrous sex abuse inquiry.
A spokesman for Hogan-Howe told the Mail Sir Richard concluded that each of the Met’s investigations into claims of historical child abuse had been conducted professionally and there were no systemic failings in the Met.
He also stated that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) ‘had the opportunity to examine all of the evidence in this case and concluded there were no misconduct or criminal matters. Bernard Hogan-Howe has not seen that report’.
The same spokesman also suggested the Mail might ‘note the success of anti-terrorism policing on his watch’.
As the high-profile inquiry began to fall apart, Hogan-Howe then appeared to cynically enter damage-limitation mode.
In September 2015, he told listeners to radio station LBC that his officers had ‘carried out a very thorough and professional inquiry,’ despite rumours to the contrary.
The following month, he refused to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. It later emerged he had flown to Oman to give a 20-minute speech at a conference on security.
Also, the man whose services are being hawked around by a PR firm saw his force accused in 2016 of attempting to ‘bury’ news that Bramall would not be charged with any offence by releasing details to the media without warning at 8.27pm on a Friday.
The Met also issued a (in retrospect shameful) statement saying it had ‘serious concerns’ about a BBC-TV Panorama documentary which shed further light on the outlandish nature of fantasist ‘Nick’s’ claims.
To Hogan-Howes’s credit, he did commission Sir Richard Henriques’s independent review and an external police review. But the Met arranged for a heavily redacted version of the damning Henriques report to be released to the Press on the day of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Many thought that having asked for the review, Hogan-Howe would have wanted proper public disclosure.
At that time, Hogan-Howe also issued a public apology to Lord Bramall, Lady Brittan and Harvey Proctor ‘for the intrusion into their homes and the impact of Operation Midland on their lives’.
In any case, with the ‘paedophiles in high places’ inquiry in tatters, he announced his retirement and left in February 2017.
He was asked what might be his greatest regret. Clearing his throat, he ignored the fact that distinguished men’s reputations had been permanently besmirched by Operation Midland, as well as the damage done by Elveden and Plebgate.
Instead, he said, without a hint of irony, that his biggest error in office had been failing to upgrade the Met’s IT system.
And with that last display of chutzpah, Lord Hogan-Howe went off to make some serious loot.
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