Fake claims of child abuse by UK elite get 18-year sentence

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LONDON (AP) — A man who falsely claimed he was abused by members of a pedophile ring at the heart of the British government was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison.

Carl Beech, 51, was the key witness in a prominent investigation of sexual abuse and slaying allegations involving British politicians, military generals, and senior officials in the intelligence services.

Beech was convicted of perverting the course of justice, fraud, voyeurism and possession of indecent images.

“He derived sexual pleasure from graphically describing the violent sexual abuse of young boys,” prosecutor Tony Badenoch said of Beech’s motives. “He enjoyed the attention and celebrity.”

Beech approached police in 2012 with a fantastic tale of drugs, sex and power at the higher echelons of power. It was a sensitive time in Britain, coming amid a wave of revelations that entertainer Jimmy Savile, a popular BBC presenter between the 1960s and early 2000s, had sexually abused hundreds of children and women at the height of his career.

London’s Metropolitan Police service spent 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) to investigate the “VIP ring” that Beech alleged was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Though the stories were completely fabricated, he managed to convince senior police officers, journalists and politicians he was a genuine victim.

The people he falsely accused as his abusers included former Prime Minister Edward Heath, former Home Secretary Leon Brittan and a retired head of the army, Edwin Bramall.

A lawyer, Drew Pettifer, read a statement the 81-year-old Bramall made about the “monstrous allegations” before Beech’s trial because he was not sure he would live through the proceedings.

He described having his house searched by 20 police officers while his wife was seriously ill in bed. His wife died without seeing his name cleared.

“I thought I could be hurt no more.” Bramall said. “I was never as badly wounded in all my time in the military as I was by the allegations.”

When doubts arose about Beech’s credibility in 2016, police searched his home and discovered hundreds of images of children being sexually abused and had installed a camera in a toilet to film a young boy.

London police came under widespread criticism for the investigation, which closed in 2016 without making a single arrest.

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