A former Kingston man convicted of lying about the existence of a Westminster-VIP paedophile ring has been jailed for 18 years.

Carl Beech, 51, who previously lived in Kingston, was found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud by jurors at Newcastle Crown Court.

He received his jail sentence for those offences as well as charges of voyeurism and possession of indecent images to which he had previously admitted.

The Metropolitan Police spent £2 million investigating Mr Beech's allegations that he had been raped and abused by famous Westminster figures in the 1970s and 1980s.

He made the false claims during hours of tearful interviews that jurors correctly identified as false.

One senior detective had at one stage wrongly described Mr Beech's allegations as "credible and true".

The former Kingstonian made deceitful claims about high-profile figures including 91-year-old Normandy veteran Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.

All three had their homes searched by the Met Police during Operation Midland, which was set up in 2014 to look into the divorced father-of-one's allegations.

After Operation Midland was closed without a single arrest having been made, Mr Beech fled to Sweden just as the Crown Prosecution Service considered bringing charges against him.

While there, he bought two properties and tried to evade the authorities by using false identities.

He was extradited back to the UK to face charges in October last year.

The Met received criticism for its handling of the Operation Midland investigation, which closed in 2016 and was described by Mr Proctor as a "truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing".

During Mr Beech's trial, Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC had previously explained to the jury how Mr Beech had showed "breathtaking hypocrisy" in accusing others of sex offences against children while he himself demonstrated an interest in pre-teen boys.

Over the course of the trial, which spanned more than two months, jurors heard how Mr Beech spun officers lie after lie.

He claimed that the gang of men, who he referred to as "The Group", had run over and killed a boy named Scott in front of him — but prosecutors said that the child described had in fact never existed.

The fraudster also gave false hope to the family of Martin Allen, who went missing in 1979 at the age of 15, by saying that he had seen a youngster matching his description raped and strangled in front of him.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said that officers assigned to the case had worked in good faith, and that an "internal debrief" would take place following Mr Beech's conviction to identify whether lessons could be learned.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson has been criticised for meeting with Mr Beech in 2014, but the politician said he had simply told him the allegations would be taken seriously, saying in a statement: "It was not my role to judge whether victims' stories were true."