Shortly after Field Marshal Lord Bramall shared his final wishes with his family, his only son Nicolas started tapping out an email.
Furious that his father’s life should end without anyone facing justice for the shambolic paedophile investigation that made a misery of this great man’s final years, he wrote to Scotland Yard Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.
‘I am angry, as you would be if it was your father who has had to endure such an ordeal, and totally bewildered that the Met refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing by any of the police officers involved,’ he wrote on November 2, 2019. Dame Cressida did not reply.
She had visited his father at his home on September 18 last year to apologise in person for the litany of mistakes made in Operation Midland. Nicolas was not present at the meeting, witnessed by his sister Sara, and ten days later wrote a furious letter to Dame Cressida complaining about how the ailing D-Day hero had been treated by the Met. She replied to this correspondence a few weeks later, but not in a way that satisfied Nicolas – prompting him to send a second email to the Met chief.
Dame Cressida Dick pictured walking through the central lobby at the state opening of parliament in Westminster, London, in December last year
Lord Bramall, one of the most outstanding military figures of the past century, died peacefully at his home in Hampshire ten days later. He spent his final morning with his granddaughter, Charlotte, 39.
‘Dad was strangely worried, not about dying but about the manner in which he’d die. It was great relief he went suddenly and didn’t suffer,’ says Nicolas.
Lord Bramall was 95 and, thankfully, lived long enough to see the fantasist known as Nick – real name Carl Beech – imprisoned and wholly discredited for his wicked lies.
He was the attention-seeking, so-called ‘whistle-blower’ who came forward with wildly, implausible accusations of historical child abuse and murder, involving several high-profile men including Lord Bramall.
It led to a 16-month police inquiry, Operation Midland, which failed to find a shred of evidence and which was later ruled ‘unlawful’. But not one of the officers who threw this valiant old soldier to the wolves has been brought to justice. Nicolas, 67, a landscape gardener who lives in Dorset with his second wife Pip, maintains his father ‘ran out of steam’ after that.
‘He fought very hard. Anyone who’s seen those police interviews he had under caution can see he was absolutely fuming,’ says Nicolas. ‘It was all pretty appalling. We were even asked whether we were happy he was alone with his great- grandchildren. This is a man who was held in extraordinarily high regard for a life of duty.
‘His last four years should have been years of quiet reflection but they were anything but. He became less secure about himself. We had long discussions about it. He’d say: “I’m not a bad chap am I?” To be accused of such heinous crimes as rape, buggery, torture, with no evidence at all…
Met Supt Diane Tudway pictured at a remembrance service in London in 2014. She was the senior investigating officer in Operation Midland
‘I don’t think he ever got his head round how the Metropolitan Police behaved. Dad always thought and said he’d led a charmed life but that charmed life ended in March 2015 when officers turned up at his home. Not just a couple of officers but more than 20 and, of course, Dad had no idea what it was about. All he was told was there had been a complaint about him by one man 40 years ago. They left it for three months before he was interviewed.’
Edwin (Dwin) Bramall rose to the very top of the Army and went on to run umpteen national organisations and reshape conventional military thinking with his huge brain and sharp wit.
But none of this mattered a jot when the witless box-tickers in the Met fell for the fantasies of a serial liar. They even insisted Beech’s claims of abuse at the hands of a VIP paedophile ring, which included among other prominent men, former prime minister Edward Heath, ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor and former home secretary Leon Brittan, ‘credible and true’.
Former Met deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse, who was the senior officer involved with Operation Midland, is now head of operations at the National Crime Agency on £245,000 a year. Similarly Cressida Dick, who sanctioned the investigation, has been elevated to a Dame and… well, let’s just say, those who presided over one of the most shameful episodes in Met history are all doing pretty well. Nicolas is now calling for an independent public inquiry into the shambolic Operation Midland.
‘Since Dad has died I’ve just felt more and more angry,’ says Nicolas. ‘I find it deplorable that, not only has no one said “we’ve got this spectacularly wrong,” but, everyone involved has either been promoted, ennobled or pensioned off. You can’t help feeling the police have closed ranks. In any other field if you made a mess up of these proportions you’d have to be held accountable, wouldn’t you?’
Dame Cressida Dick (pictured)
We meet in the sitting room that was turned upside down less than five years ago when the Met ordered a dawn raid. Lord Bramall was caring for his wife of 66 years, Avril, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, when more than 20 officers ransacked their home. The poor woman kept asking what she’d done as she was shunted from room to room.
‘Don’t the police have people who are trained to sort of say, “what do you think of this chap? Is he telling the truth?” before they go barging into someone’s home?’ asks Nicolas whose mother died shortly after that intrusion.
‘I believe they were so seduced by the idea of a high-level paedophile ring they wanted it to be true. I believe the police are culpable not just of incompetence and negligence but of illegality.’
He is not alone. In October last year, Howard Riddle, the former senior district judge who issued warrants to search not just the Bramalls’ home but the homes of Lady Brittan, whose husband had died two weeks earlier, and Mr Proctor, said he was ‘misled’ by police officers and that the applications for the warrants had been ‘unlawful’. An investigation into the Met for perverting the course of justice was expected to follow. It never has.
Nicolas has contained his fury for three months. He last saw his father on Remembrance Sunday, shortly after he was discharged from hospital to spend his final days at home. His father’s memorial service will be at Winchester Cathedral on April 30. He asked his son to deliver a tribute.
‘Whether or not Cressida Dick will be at the service I don’t know, but there’ll be a chunk about Operation Midland,’ Nicolas says.
‘I’ll say Dad laid the blame fairly and squarely at the door of the Metropolitan Police. He did not blame Carl Beech. In fact he showed a certain amount of compassion for him. He blamed the Metropolitan Police entirely for being so stupid as to believe him.’
In a statement, Scotland Yard said: ‘The Commissioner met Lord Bramall and his family to personally apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service last September. Nicolas Bramall subsequently raised a number of concerns… The Commissioner replied to his letter in October acknowledging his concerns and again apologising for the damage caused by the investigation into Carl Beech’s false allegations.’