A fiercely-criticised police investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring has been dropped.
The Metropolitan Police probe, called Operation Midland, was launched in November 2014 after claims that boys were sexually abused by a number of public figures more than 30 years ago.
It cost £1.8 million up to November 2015 and did not lead to a single arrest, but saw raids on the homes of 92-year-old D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and the late Lord Brittan.
Ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who furiously denied any involvement, was interviewed under caution twice and had his home searched but has now been told he will face no further action.
Late former prime minister Edward Heath was also named in connection with the inquiry.
Defending the investigation, Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, said: “It is absolutely right that we assessed carefully the allegations made to us in October 2014 and did not dismiss them prematurely. Our initial inquiries supported the need for a thorough investigation to seek any evidence that might corroborate or disprove the allegations.
The announcement came around an hour after former Tory MP Harvey Proctor said he had been told he would face no further action in relation to the investigation.
In a statement running to more than 1,000 words, the force said it “will not apologise for carrying out its duty to investigate serious allegations of non-recent abuse”.
It added: “The MPS recognise however, how unpleasant it is for an individual to be investigated and to have their innocence publicly called into question.
“The MPS sympathises with those affected, including the families of those no longer alive, and regrets the distress they have felt. But it is in the interests of justice for police to investigate thoroughly.”
The inquiry centred on allegations by a man known as “Nick”, and was also looking into the alleged murder of three young boys. At one point a detective described Nick’s account as “credible and true”.
But the investigation came under intense scrutiny after the Met announced in January that Lord Bramall would face no further action over historical abuse allegations.
The development sparked calls for police to offer an apology to the former armed forces chief – which Scotland Yard refused – and prompted questions over the veracity of Nick’s claims.