Paul Settle, the former head of Met Police’ paedophile unit,, has given two interviews to the media in the last few days.
In the first to the BBChe describes how he has quit the Met at the very young age of 44 because he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a career as a high flying policeman.
He told the BBC:”Most of my career was dealing with serious crime and it was not uncommon for me to see things that most people would regard as horrific. I’ve probably dealt with 100 murders,” he says.
But eventually things which had happened years before started to haunt him – an IRA bomb attack in Wood Green, London in 1992 and his work to help identify and repatriate Britons killed in the 2004 Thailand tsunami.
“It is really difficult to understand because for the best part of 20 years it never affected me, then out of nowhere it started to affect me in a very nasty and intrusive way.”
He started to have nightmares where he would wake up feeling the heat from the bomb blast.
“In the case of the tsunami, I could smell the bodies when I woke up. It was quite a rapid descent. You begin to dread going to sleep so you stay up later.”
He says he initially turned to alcohol to help him get to sleep, but quickly found that made matters worse so sought intensive treatment instead to try to help him overcome debilitating symptoms which he says have reduced him to a shadow of his former self.
Even after treatment he still finds it hard to go out or be in a crowd.
Sirens and some loud noises can trigger gut wrenching and exhausting episodes of hyper arousal, an intense anxiety which can last for weeks on end.
“On two occasions I was preparing to kill myself. But whilst I was at my lowest point I decided I needed to try to make the best of a bad situation. I don’t think I’ll ever recover fully.”
One would feel extremely sorry for him – if not for an interview in the Daily Mail two days later – which skates over his state of mind – where he follows the paper’s agenda of rubbishing any paedophile case involving anybody remotely important. The interview is one of three in the last two weeks all on the same theme.
In it- and he has done this before – he aggrandises the role of Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, describing the Met Police’s as being “terrified ” of him ( I doubt that myself.)
Mr Settle told the Mail :: ‘The management at the Yard were absolutely petrified of Tom Watson. They were scared of what he could do to their careers.
‘They hung me out to dry. It was about their self-preservation. I was an expendable DCI and their careers were more important to them.
‘I was quite emphatic that the allegations against Lord Brittan were nonsense.’
He is particularly angry that Tom Watson contacted the DPP over an historic allegation that Lord Brittan had raped a young woman.
The Mail said: He was ‘disgusted’ to learn that a month earlier, Mr Watson had written directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, asking her to review the decision and demanding that Lord Brittan – who was dying of cancer – be interviewed. The letter was forwarded to Met chiefs. “
Yet the CPS did decide that a different approach should have been made and I am sure not just because it wanted to appease a Labour MP, then a backbencher. And he was interviewed though there was not enough evidence to bring charges.
Mr Settle also believes ” Nick” who is a child sex abuse survivor should be prosecuted for bringing forward such allegations which did involve prominent figures and accusations of murder as well as child sex abuse and led to the Operation Midland investigation.
“If the evidence is there, he should be charged. He has done more harm to victim rights’ than anyone in modern criminal history.’
He also has told the Mail that he believed he lost his job because of his stand.
‘I was hounded out at the Met purely because I stood up and said ‘we should not do that’. But I can look myself in the mirror. I did the right thing.
‘However it was patently obvious that having exposed the failings of senior officers – and the level of indecision that existed and some would say incompetence – that I had no place in the organisation.’
‘I have been vindicated in the end but I have lost the job I love.’
Scotland Yard disagree. A spokesman is reported by the Mail as saying : “The Met does not believe that Mr Settle was “hounded out” of the organisation.”
To my mind there is one big unanswered question in all this. Given the high profile role and all the complexities of the Westminster paedophile investigation – why was a man who was in such a bad mental state – drinking himself to sleep and having nightmares because of previous police duties – ever put in charge of it in the first place.
He would have difficulties in dealing with such graphic and difficult allegations and putting such prominent people through the mill.It strikes me that the main criticism of the Met must be whether it followed its ” duty of care ” to its own staff, not any suggestion that it hounded him out of office.