The Operation Midland inquiry into a Westminster VIP sex abuse ring has collapsed.
No wonder. It was based on the claims of a fantasist.
The police had to show they were taking abuse allegations seriously after the shameful failure to stop abuse by celebrities such as Jimmy Savile.
But this caused police to over-compensate and make two unforgivable errors.
A top officer, Supt Kenny McDonald, described claims by ‘Nick’ of abuse by the VIP ring as “credible and true”.
And another police officer said that anyone who came forward to say that they had been abused by Sir Edward Heath “will be believed”.
The latter incident was particularly awful, because the officer stood outside the former prime minister’s house in Salisbury. Sir Edward’s reputation is ruined.
But the former incident is even more troubling. Anyone who believed ‘Nick’ for long should be neither a senior detective nor a senior journalist.
Anyone who has been in the police or the media for a while knows that wicked things happen all over the world and often the public never hears about it. But we also know troubled people come into newspaper offices, perhaps with crucial stories but sometimes with nonsense.
‘Nick’ told police he had witnessed three murders by a paedophile gang.
The first was a boy who was deliberately run down by a car.
The next was a boy who was strangled by a Tory MP.
The third was a boy who was killed by two men in front of another Conservative MP.
A man called ‘Darren’ claimed he had seen a boy tied to two cars and ripped apart.
That these claims were patent rubbish should have been clear to a senior policeman or journalist for a simple reason.
Sex abuse, as we know, has been widespread. But the sexual murder of a child, probably the most evil crime of all, is mercifully rare. In Northern Ireland in recent decades the tiny number of such bestial murders includes Jennifer Cardy in 1981 and Arlene Arkinson in 1994.
Men depraved enough to do such a thing number perhaps one in 250,000. The chance of one such monster meeting another is rarer still.In a nation of 64 million people,it has happened so rarely that 50+ years later we all still know how the repulsive Ian Brady teamed up with the vile Myra Hindley.
Yet Nick and Darren not only both witnessed such a freakishly rare combination of murderers, in Nick’s case they included not just one Conservative MP but two of them.
A detective hearing such a story should quickly realise that they might – at least might – one day have to arrest the claimant for lying or refer them to the mental health authorities.