Exaro News Archive

Police raid Leon Brittan’s properties in London and Yorkshire

‘Operation Midland’ also searches home of Lord Bramall, former head of armed forces

By Mark Conrad, Nick Fielding and Alex Varley-Winter | 8 March 2015

Exaro has established that, in a highly-secret operation, detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Midland’ raided the late Lord Brittan’s houses in London and Yorkshire early on Wednesday morning.

They co-ordinated the dawn raids at the same time as they swooped on the home of Harvey Proctor, former Conservative MP, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, as revealed by Exaro on the day.

Exaro can also reveal that, at the same time, a third team of detectives searched the Surrey home of the elderly former head of the armed forces, Lord Bramall.

As many as 20 officers are understood to have attended a single raid. Forensic specialists were among the officers.

A Met spokesman confirmed that the co-ordinated series of raids were conducted under Operation Midland, which is investigating allegations against MPs and other establishment figures of child sex abuse more than three decades ago in Dolphin Square, the apartment complex near Parliament, and other locations.

No arrests have been made.

Detectives turned up in an unmarked car early on Wednesday morning at Brittan’s family home in Pimlico in Westminster. They kept the raid as low key as possible, and people who live and work nearby were unaware that it was taking place.

Brittan died at the house in January at the age of 75 from cancer, according to his death certificate. Exaro later revealed how Brittan was under investigation by police over multiple allegations of sexually abusing boys.

Confirming the raid on Brittan’s London home, a Met spokeswoman would only say: “Officers from Operation Midland conducted a search of an address in Westminster on Wednesday, March 4 in connection with their inquiries.”

At the same time, police also raided Brittan’s country home, between the sleepy village of Spennithorne and the market town of Leyburn in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.

It is in the constituency of Richmond, which he once represented as an MP. The house has terraced gardens with roses and herbaceous borders, a fish pond and spectacular views of the Yorkshire Dales.

The Met spokeswoman said: “Officers from Operation Midland conducted a search of an address in Leyburn on Wednesday, March 4 in connection with their inquiries.”

Brittan was home secretary, then trade secretary, in Margaret Thatcher’s government, and went on to be a commissioner, and then vice-president, of the European Commission.

Meanwhile, police also arrived at the home of Lord Bramall, 91, on Wednesday morning to conduct a search, which took all day.

His house has a large frontage, with a gravelled drive in front. It sits in a wealthy enclave in a village just outside Farnham in Surrey, close to the army-town of Aldershot.

The Met spokeswoman said: “Officers from Operation Midland conducted a search of an address in Farnham on Wednesday, March 4 in connection with their inquiries.”

Edwin Bramall is one of Britain’s most highly-decorated army officers. Eton-educated Bramall was staff officer to Lord Mountbatten – a cousin of the Queen – from 1963 to 1964. He became a general in 1976.

From 1979 to 1982, he was chief of the general staff, the professional head of the British army. In that role, he played a key part in Britain’s battle to reclaim the Falkland Islands following the invasion by Argentina in 1982.

After the Falklands war, he was promoted to field marshal. He rose to chief of the defence staff for all of the armed forces – the most senior uniformed rank in Britain – until 1985.

He became a Lord in 1987. He retired from the House of Lords in 2013, but retains his peerage.

A woman who answered the door at Bramall’s house, understood to be his wife’s carer, told Exaro that no one could answer questions on his behalf about the week’s events.

The day after the raid on his house by Met detectives and local officers, Proctor strongly denied that he went to “sex parties” or that he had been “part of any rent-boy ring with cabinet ministers, other members of Parliament, or generals, or the military”. He later gave a hastily-arranged, 60-second press conference to reiterate his denials.

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By Exaro

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.