I am writing in response to the questions that you have asked with regard to the investigation into Lord Brittan.
I hope that it assists if I answer each of your four questions in turn
1) When was it decided that no further action would be taken against Lord Brittan?
The investigation was ongoing at the time of Lord Brittan’s death, at which point the possibility of a prosecution came to an end. At no time had the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) publicly identified Lord Brittan as the subject of a criminal investigation. In response to media questions, the MPS confirmed on 22nd January 2015, the day after Lord Brittan’s death, that an investigation into a rape allegation in which a man in his 70’s had been questioned was ongoing. On the same day, a statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, ‘A charging decision has not been made in this case and the matter remains with the police.’
Prior to this, the MPS had appealed against a decision by the CPS not to review a file of evidence sent to it in November 2014. The MPS was seeking independent scrutiny in order to reassure the public that a thorough investigation had been conducted and had resulted in insufficient evidence to bring charges. Correspondence with the CPS ended in June 2015 at which point the investigation was formally concluded.
2) Why did it take so long to come to that decision?
The MPS sent its final file of evidence to the CPS in November 2014. Although the MPS had judged that the evidence gathered made a decision to charge Lord Brittan unlikely, it still sought a review of the evidence. In our view, there was a need for a transparent external assessment of the case.
The CPS responded that it could not review the evidence because it fell outside its guidelines. These say the evidence should only be reviewed where the police believed that the case met the evidential threshold for charging.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse decided to appeal the decision by the CPS to refuse to review the file on the basis that the MPS still wanted to seek an independent view on the police investigation and decision making. It was felt that these were highly unusual circumstances where the previous independence of the police to tackle sexual offending by VIPs had been publicly called into question. A decision to take no further action in respect of this allegation would undoubtedly have resulted in media criticism and public cynicism and there was clearly a very strong public interest in ensuring that the correct decision had been made.
Lord Brittan could not therefore, at that point, have been informed that no action was to be taken in respect of this allegation. Although the MPS had concluded that there was not a strong case against Lord Brittan, the purpose of requesting a CPS view was to assess whether, in its view, it did reach the evidential standard. It would have been open for the CPS to conclude that it did not meet the threshold for charging and no further action should be taken, or that further enquiries were needed or that there was in fact sufficient evidence for a charge. It was therefore conceivable that a reviewing CPS lawyer could have concluded that LB could have been charged.
3) Why was Lord Brittan not informed immediately?
The investigation was ongoing at the time of his death as explained above.
4) What is the estimated cost of this investigation into Lord Brittan?
This investigation was conducted by officers engaged in a number of other investigations and was not separately costed. A brief assessment of the case indicates that the salary costs for the police officers who carried out the investigation are in the region of £3,800. This includes planning and conducting the investigation, preparing and submitting the files to the CPS. It does not include costs of supervision and governance through the Gold Group meetings through which senior officers and legal advisors scrutinise the investigative process. Nor does it include the costs of reviewing the investigation, legal support in drafting letters and communication support in dealing with enquiries from the media.
I hope that this information will assist the Committee.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
HASC: Letter from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse to the Chair of the Committee, dated 16 October 2015