We were one of the first publications, if not the very first, to proclaim that Harvey Proctor is innocent.  This was for a very broad reason, which is that homosexuality and violent paedophilia are not be confused, and for a narrow one, which is that Proctor and Edward Heath were enemies.  For the two to be accused of sexually abusing children together (the former with murderous intent) had the opposite of the smell of truth about it – namely, the smell of lies or, if not of lies, of fantasy.

There is no saying more false than: “there is no smoke without fire”.  Actually, there is often smoke without fire: you can see that this is so every time a friend puffs away at an e-cigarette.  Very often, the only smoke that exists is in our own imaginations – for some because they seem to want it to be so, and thus conjure it into being.  And the odour of it will cling to Proctor and Lord Bramall, another innocent man dragged into “Operation Midland”, for the rest of their lives.  “Nick”, who made the false claims, has lost nothing.  Proctor has lost his home, his job and – to the ignorant, credulous or malicious – his name.

He says that “Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Patricia Gallan, Steve Rodhouse and Kenny McDonald should tender their resignations from the Metropolitan Police Service forthwith” and that “Nick” should be prosecuted for “seeking to pervert the course of justice”.  You or I would perhaps say the same if we were in the same position.  He is right to suggest that the police should now apologise to Bramall and himself – as they have already done to Lady Brittan – and McDonald, who pronounced “Nick’s” evidence “credible and true”, should certainly go.

And there is a strong case for prosecuting “Nick” for wasting police time – though without knowing more about him it is impossible to say whether or not it is conclusive.  Hogan-Howe himself had little option, once Tom Watson had raised claims about Leon Brittan publicly, but to launch an investigation.  None the less, the way in which Operation Midland has been carried out – with its raids, leaks and £3 million costs – has smacked of hysteria.  Those apologies should certainly come now that Midland has collapsed.

Such is the strange place that child abuse now occupies in our culture.  Those who aren’t victims are believed.  Those who really are victims are not.  Look no further than the groomed, battered and raped girls of Rotherham.