‘Operation Winter Key’ brings together claims of old police cases dropped ‘corruptly’
By Tim Wood | 21 April 2016
Detectives have combined a series of investigations into alleged cover-ups of child sex abuse by VIPs into one umbrella operation.
Exaro can reveal that allegations about how Scotland Yard “corruptly” dropped old cases on claims against celebrities such as Sir Jimmy Savile, the paedophile and BBC star, politicians and other prominent people are being investigated under ‘Operation Winter Key’.
Sources familiar with the operation say that it covers all claims of “impropriety” by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service over complaints of sexual abuse up to 2012.
One source told Exaro: “It is being treated very seriously.”
Detectives from the Met’s directorate of professional standards (PSD) are working on the expanding operation, which is being overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
As Exaro revealed in January, the IPCC is directly investigating similar allegations against a senior Met detective in more recent years.
A source close to the operation said: “The reason for the cut-off at 2012 is that it would be unethical for PSD officers to look at other officers still in the Met. It is too sensitive for everyone at the moment for these issues to be left unresolved.”
A second source said: “Every day, people are reporting abuse that happened to them in the past and saying that they told the police at the time, or their social worker, nurse, or teacher. Things were very different back in the day. It is not perfect now. But the Met is trying to deal with this.”
“People are coming forward to say that they told the police about this, but they did nothing about it, or the officers dealing with it were suddenly told to stop investigating this.”
Operation Winter Key is investigating whether, as some former officers allege, orders to close cases prematurely came from senior management. It is taking evidence from several current and former officers.
One element of the operation is investigating complaints that police failed to treat allegations specifically against Savile properly.
The second source added: “Forces all round the country are carrying out similar investigations, seeing whether there is any evidence of misconduct at a much higher level.”
When the Met last month announced the closure of ‘Operation Midland’, the investigation into allegations of child sex abuse and the murder of three boys by members of the Westminster paedophile network, it said that the PSD was continuing to look into historical allegations from former officers about concerns over sexual abuse that involved “political figures” and were not properly examined. The IPCC was managing 32 such investigations.
A spokesman for the Met said that all its investigations into allegations of child sex abuse by prominent people, liaising with the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse, as well as “impropriety by officers”, have been brought together under Operation Winter Key. It has a 90-strong team.
The investigations into shelved operations were launched after Exaro revealed in December 2014 how several former police officers admitted in a private online forum that paedophile cases by Scotland Yard were closed down as they started to expose VIPs.
Exaro published incendiary posts from the closed online forum for serving and former officers.
A week later, Exaro revealed that former police officers who made the revealing postings had decided to submit a dossier of statements to the Met’s commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
And there were yet more revealing posts, including recollections of one surveillance operation on paedophiles that was shelved after it tracked police officers, lawyers and even a magistrate.
Three months later, the IPCC announced an initial wave of investigations into “allegations of corruption in the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to child sex offences dating from the 1970’s to the 2000’s.”
The IPCC said in a statement that all the cases concerned allegations of “suppressing evidence, hindering or halting investigations, and covering up the offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.”
It also announced a similar investigation in relation to Greater Manchester Police and the late Sir Cyril Smith, the former Liberal MP who died in 2010.
And last September, the IPCC announced a further tranche of similar investigations. The police appealed for anyone with any relevant information about such historical cases to come forward.
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