A man fed police an “extraordinary tale” by claiming he had witnessed child murders and was sexually abused by a VIP Westminster paedophile ring, a court has heard.

Carl Beech is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court where he denies 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud.

The allegations were initially made to Wiltshire Police and the Met and led to the launch of Operation Midland – with elderly suspects such as Lord Brittan, former head of the army Lord Bramall, and former MP Harvey Proctor having their homes raided.

Beech was given anonymity as a complainant of sexual abuse, and handed the pseudonym Nick.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said his accusations against the powerful figures were among the “most heinous” that could be made.

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The court heard how Lord Brittan had died after his own home was searched and that all three men had suffered “immeasurable distress” including the death of Lord Bramall’s wife “whilst the file was still open”.

Following the closure of Operation Midland, Northumberland Police began investigating Beech himself – and discovered a number of his important claims were “provably false”.

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“He had lied about the content of these allegations, taken active steps to embellish a false story, and then cover his tracks when challenged,” Mr Badenoch added.

“He made no response when asked to account for this by Northumbria Police and, ultimately, he took the only option that was really available to him – he fled the country and lived overseas as a fugitive.”

The 51-year-old father was later arrested by a specialist fugitive unit in Sweden working closely with Northumbria Police and the National Crime Agency.

Beech had claimed over the course of a number of months and years that he had witnessed “three child murders, multiple rapes, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and widespread sexual abuse”, the court heard.

The prosecution described it as an “extraordinary tale”.