His extraordinary claims were levelled against a series of politicians and military leaders as well as the spy chiefs. Beech named members of the gang that included Edward Heath, the former prime minister, Lord Brittan, the former home secretary, and Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a veteran of D-Day and former head of the Army.
Despite his outlandish claims, police said Beech’s allegations were both “credible and true” in December 2014. After the collapse of Operation Midland and uproar over raids on the homes of Lord Brittan, who had died of cancer, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, an ex-Tory MP, Northumbria Police were called in to investigate Beech. That investigation showed he was telling a pack of lies.
But, he had shredded reputations in the process. Hanley, a married father-of-two, who died in 2001 at the age of 82, was director general of MI5 from 1972 to 1978, having served in the Second World War.