Serious questions raised about why Met Police chose not to investigate alleged offences. Police said today they will ‘review the information’ reported by this programme.
A Channel 4 News investigation has found more than half a dozen claims that young women and girls are alleged to have been targeted, trafficked, groomed, or abused in the UK by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, over a period spanning more than a decade.
Some of those victims have provided detailed accounts of their experiences. The evidence comes from a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews. The alleged offences detailed in the accounts include serious sexual assault and rape.
The Channel 4 News investigation reveals that despite this, the Met Police chose not to carry out a full criminal investigation into these alleged offences despite many of these claims being in the public domain, a direct approach from at least one victim, and widespread evidence that Epstein had abused young women through a global criminal enterprise.
Serious questions have been raised about why the force failed to carry out a full criminal investigation, including whether Prince Andrew’s involvement with Maxwell and Epstein had any bearing on their decision not to fully investigate; and whether the Metropolitan Police faces a conflict of interest due the role of its officers serving in proximity as Royal protection officers. Prince Andrew denies any wrongdoing.
Legal experts who reviewed the claims for Channel 4 News said the allegations provide clear grounds for an investigation and accused the Met Police of failing in their legal duty to launch a full criminal inquiry.
Nazir Afzal OBE, the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England at the CPS, who led landmark cases against grooming gangs in northern England, said: “From what I’ve seen, there is clearly enough evidence for the police to investigate more thoroughly than they have done up to now.
“It’s concerning, because we’ve got potentially victims here. And maybe other victims or alleged victims, who may if an investigation follows its course, be identified.”
A spokesperson for the Met Police told this programme it would “review” the information put to them by Channel 4 News.
When asked if Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were treated differently by the MPS because of their connection with Prince Andrew, Afzal warned: “The perception here is a different approach was taken in relation to these alleged offences, then there would be than if it was some brown guy in Rochdale, or some sex offender in London who didn’t have any standing at all.”
Channel 4 News was also able to identify potential witnesses by tracing name and telephone numbers from a publicly available contacts directory, known as the ‘Black Book’, which openly details associates and workers (including drivers, pilots, and masseuses) in the UK, in a similar pattern to those seen in other countries that have launched investigations, including the US and France. None of the people we called told us they had received any contact from the UK police.
Publicly available flight records from this period show Epstein and Maxwell were frequent visitors to the UK. Our analysis shows Epstein’s private planes – a Gulfstream jet and the luxury Boeing 727 dubbed “The Lolita Express” – flew in and out of UK airports at least 51 times, including into RAF Marham in Norfolk. The pair were also visitors at Royal residences including Balmoral, Windsor and Sandringham.
In 2015 the Met Police chose not to open a full criminal investigation into an incident involving Epstein, Maxwell and Prince Andrew in 2001, despite a complaint from a third party who passed on evidence of serious criminal activity involving the exploitation of a vulnerable young woman. In 2019 the Met Police carried out a review of that decision and concluded that no further action was required.
One of the alleged UK victims and her legal team spoke directly with Met Police officers in 2016 and urged them to investigate. When Channel 4 News has previously asked questions about this direct approach, the Met Police has not provided any answers and ignored the questions. The Met Police has never publicly acknowledged this direct approach, instead providing public statements referring only to the third-party complaint in 2015.
A spokesperson for the Met Police told Channel 4 News it would “review” the information put to them by this programme. However, they said they stand by their decision not to open a full investigation.
In a statement, the force said: “The MPS always takes allegations of sexual offences and exploitation seriously.
“All officers no matter what their role are duty bound to uphold the law and conduct themselves with integrity.
“The MPS is clear that it will investigate allegations where there is sufficient evidence of an offence having taken place, where it is the appropriate authority to do so and where those against whom the allegation are made are alive.
“The MPS stands by the statement by Commander Alex Murray issued at the end of 2019.
“This confirmed that the MPS had received an allegation of non-recent trafficking for sexual exploitation against a US national, Jeffrey Epstein, and a British woman in 2015 relating to events outside of the UK and an allegation of trafficking to central London in March 2001.
“Officers assessed the available evidence, interviewed the complainant and obtained early investigative advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. However, following the legal advice, it was clear that any investigation into human trafficking would be largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK.
“Officers, therefore, concluded that the MPS was not the appropriate authority to conduct enquiries in these circumstances and, in November 2016, a decision was made that this matter would not proceed to a full criminal investigation.
“In August 2019, following the death of Jeffrey Epstein, officers reviewed the decision making from 2016 and concluded that the position should remain unchanged.
“The MPS has continued to liaise and offer assistance with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein but is unable to comment on individuals with whom they may or may not have interacted with regard any allegations of crime.
“We will always consider any new information and will review the information sent to us from Channel 4.”