UK

Ex-army chief Lord Bramall 'mystified' by police search of house

Scotland Yard Image copyright PA

A former chief of the defence staff has categorically denied any involvement with child sexual abuse and has told the BBC he is "mystified" by a police search of his house.

Lord Bramall, speaking from his home in Surrey, said officers working for the Met's Operation Midland told him an allegation made last October connected him to their investigation.

The investigation is looking at claims establishment figures abused boys.

He said he had an "unblemished record".

Operation Midland is examining claims that boys were abused by a group of powerful men from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies at locations across southern England and in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

It has focused on the Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico, south-west London.

'Absolute rubbish'

Lord Bramall, who is 91, told the BBC: "Categorically, never have I had a connection or anything to do with the matters being investigated. It is not in my character or my psyche."

He said: "I know I have only had sex with someone other than my own sex."

Lord Bramall said any suggestion he was involved in child abuse was "absolutely a load of rubbish."

Officers in white overalls searched his house from 08:00 until 19:00 last Wednesday, he said.

Image caption Lord Bramall spoke to the BBC on his retirement from the armed forces in 1985

He has not been arrested, named as a suspect by police or questioned.

Lord Bramall said he had an "unblemished record" and had been "security-cleared to the highest level".

A field marshal and baron, Lord Bramall served during the Normandy landings and commanded UK land forces between 1976 and 1978.

He become chief of the general staff - the professional head of the Army - in 1979, and in 1982 he oversaw the Falklands campaign. Later that year he became chief of the defence staff - the most senior officer commanding the UK's armed forces.

Lord Bramall also criticised a senior police officer for saying last year that if people who had been abused came forward, "we will believe you".

In a police briefing at Scotland Yard on 18 December, Det Supt Kenny McDonald appealed for boys who might have been abused to come forward.

In a BBC interview that followed the briefing he said: "You will be believed, we will support you".

Abuse allegations

Lord Bramall said it was not for the police to say whether allegations were true, but for prosecutors to prove.

The Met is investigating allegations from a man in his 40s, known as "Nick", who claims he was abused by prominent men in the military, politics and law enforcement.

Mr McDonald said the police regarded the allegations as "credible and true".

Nick alleges he was abused at a range of prominent London locations including the Dolphin Square apartment complex and private houses.

He also claims the abuse took place at military facilities across southern England and other homes close to them.

Lord Bramall said he had attended events Dolphin Square "four or five times", including, he remembered, to give an award, but believed he had probably only once been inside an apartment there.