Coming to BBC Two next week is The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech – a documentary about the former nurse whose false sexual abuse allegations, targeted at prominent British figures, shocked the British public in the wake of Operation Yewtree.
This hour-long film, directed by Vanessa Engle, looks at the suffering caused by Beech’s false accusations, Scotland Yard launching Operation Midland in response and Beech’s eventual imprisonment for fraud, perverting the course of justice and possessing pornographic images of children.
With exclusive interviews with some of the people closely involved in the ordeal, Beech’s ex-wife and family members of the accused, The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech will use Beech’s own words to look back on the unsettling chain of events.
Here’s everything you need to know about true story behind the upcoming documentary.
Who is Carl Beech? Also known as Nick “The Fantasist”
Carl Beech is a former paediatric nurse who falsely claimed that a number of prominent figures had sexually abused him and others.
He accused a number of MPs, generals and senior figures in the intelligence services of sexually abusing him and others in the 1970s and 80s, before being eventually convicted of possessing paedophilic material himself.
He was born in 1968, with his parents separating when he was young. His mother went on to marry Major Raymond Beech, a Wiltshire-based soldier, in 1976 and Carl spent a lot of time growing up on a military property.
However, his mother’s second marriage eventually broke down, leading them to relocate to Bicester, followed by Kingston upon Thames in 1979. Beech later alleged that it was this period during which he was abused by a VIP paedophile ring involving Jimmy Savile and was given the pseudonym “Nick” by police.
What did Carl Beech do?
He told a series of lies about high-profile or establishment figures. Beech first told Wiltshire Police in 2012 that his stepfather, Jimmy Savile and a group of unnamed men had sexually abused him, however the police dismissed his allegations. He continued writing about his abuse in his online blogs, which attracted media attention in the aftermath of Jimmy Savile being revealed as a prolific paedophile in 2014.
Given the pseudonym “Nick”, Beech claimed to have been the sexual abuse victim of a “VIP ring” in the 1970s and 80s, and went on to name 12 of his alleged abusers to journalists and the Metropolitan police.
He also alleged that he had witnessed the murders of three children, leading to Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland, during which officers raided the homes of Harvey Proctor, Lord Bramall and the recently deceased Lord Brittan, all of whom he accused.
However, the eighteen month operation failed to find supporting evidence and was closed, with Beech withdrawing cooperation after police began challenging the inconsistencies in his statements.
Scotland Yard referred Beech for investigation, with detectives arriving at his Gloucester home in November 2016 to find hundreds of child sexual abuse images on his devices as well as video recordings from a device he’d installed in a young boy’s toilet. He initially tried to frame his teenage son for the images but later switched his plea to guilty.
Beech fled the country to Lapland, but was extradited back to the UK in October 2018.
Who did Carl Beech accuse?
Carl Beech accused a number of high-profile politicians and senior figures of sexual abuse, including his stepfather Major Raymond Beech, former head of the British armed forces Lord Bramall, Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, former home secretary Leon Brittan and former prime minister Sir Edward Heath.
Beech also accused Labour MP Greville Janner, Maurice Oldfield – the former Director of the Secret Intelligence Service – and former MI5 Director-General Michael Hanley of being members of the VIP paedophile ring.
The nurse, who has been convicted of perverting the course of justice, told police that the ring sexually abused, raped, tortured and murdered a number of children, providing gruesome details and naming Proctor and Hanley specifically as having undertaken violent acts against children. Harvey Proctor, the only living person amongst those named, strong denied all the accusations against him.
Carl Beech timeline
- 6th December 2012 – Wiltshire Police interview Beech after he makes a complaint about child sex abuse, accusing his stepfather Major Ray Beech and Jimmy Savile of abusing him. His allegations are later dismissed by the force.
- 23rd October 2014 – Beech reports several allegations against senior figures to the Metropolitan Police after speaking to journalists.
- 14th November 2014 – Police launch Operation Midland, looking into claims of “possible homicide” linked to a high-profile paedophile ring made up of senior figures. The investigation is heavily reliant on statements given by a man known as “Nick”.
- 18th December 2014 – Scotland Yards appeals to the public for any information or witnesses relating to the alleged murders of three boys linked to the alleged paedophile ring.
- 4th March 2015 – The homes of Proctor, Bramall and Brittain – who Beech accused of participating in a paedophile ring – are raided. Brittan had died two months earlier. Proctor denied all the accusations against him, including being part of a “rent-boy ring” or attending sex parties.
- 30th April 2015 – Harvey Proctor is interviewed under caution, stating: “I am homosexual. I am not a paedophile.”
- 25th August 2015 – Proctor holds press conference, denying the allegations.
- 22nd September 2015 – Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Alison Saunders says that Scotland Yard may have “overstepped the mark” in describing accusations as “credible and true”.
- 21st March 2016 – Operation Midland closed after police announce that no further action would be taken against Bramall and Proctor.
- 2nd November 2016 – Police search Beech’s Gloucester home, seizing a laptop and a MacBook as well as an iPad found in his car. Officers found 350 indecent images of children of the most serious level and recordings of a teenage schoolboy using the toilet.
- 8th November 2016 – Retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques’ report into Scotland Yard’s investigation describes Operation Midland as containing “numerous errors”.
- June 2017 – Beech is charged with four counts of making indecent photographs of children, one count of possessing indecent images of children and a count of voyeurism. While awaiting trial, Beech fled to Sweden.
- February 2018 – Beech purchased a cabin in Mjölan in Sweden, where his mother later joined him.
- July 2018 – The CPS charge Beech with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud after Northumbria police’s investigation finds sufficient evidence.
- 31st July 2018 – Beech fails to attend court in Worcester to stand trial over child abuse images, with a European arrest warrant being issued as a result.
- 1st October 2018 – Beech is arrested at Gothenburg station in Sweden and is extradited back to the UK to await trial.
- 3rd December 2018 – Beech is revealed to be Nick after Judge Paul Sloan QC lifts a reporting restriction which stopped the media from naming him.
- 22nd January 2019 – Beech pleads guilty to voyeurism, making indecent images of children and possessing indecent images, but denies the counts of perverting the course of justice and fraud a month later.
- 14th May 2019 – Beech’s trial begins.
- 3rd July 2019 – Beech stands by allegations he made to detectives.
- 22nd July 2019 – The jury decide to convict Beech after four and a half hours of deliberation.
- 26th July 2019 – 51-year-old Beech is jailed for 18 years.
Where is Carl Beech now?
In July 2019, Carl Beech was convicted of twelve counts of perverting the cause of justice, one count of fraud and several child sex offences, and is currently serving his 18-year sentence in prison.
Did Carl Beech say he was innocent?
Beech pleaded guilty to the charges relating to possessing indecent images of children, but stood by the allegations he made against several prominent senior politicians and figures during his trial. His denials were rejected by the Court.
According to Sir Richard Henriques review of Operation Midland, journalists making their own inquiries into the case had provided an “unwelcome intrusion” by showing Beech images of suspects, locations that were potentially relevant to the case and providing him with names and images of missing or murdered boys.
Henriques has been particularly critical of the case, and in 2016 issued a report about the Metropolitan Police’s investigations of Beech. He claimed Beech’s initial reports to Wiltshire Police in 2012 were “fundamentally inconsistent” with what he told the Met two years later.
He added how he believed there should have been a “criminal investigation” after Beech was jailed.
Tom Symonds, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent, showed Beech images of two London-based boys who had been missing since the late 70s and early 80s, with Beech subsequently claiming one of those boys – 15-year-old Martin Allen – had been murdered by the VIP paedophile gang.
According to BBC News, Beech also falsely claimed that Allen had been kept at a Pimlico, London address before being murdered after being shown an image of the property by an Exaro journalist, and drew sketches of military bases and former homes of suspects for police, falsely claiming to have drawn them from memory when he had actually carried out extensive internet research.
The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech airs on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday 24th August. If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide.