Edward Heath: Allegations of historic sexual abuse

Ivan Schwartz
October 6, 2017

FORMER Conservative prime minister Sir Edward Heath would be questioned over allegations that he raped and indecently assaulted boys as young as 10 were he alive today, a controversial police report has said.

The report says the allegations received in seven cases led to Heath's "suspected involvement in an offence" and thus the former prime minister would need to have been interviewed under criminal caution.

The investigation, Operation Conifer, began in August 2015 with a much-criticised launch outside Sir Edward's former home in the cathedral close at Salisbury, where police appealed for any victims of sexual abuse to come forward. The alleged offences are said to have occurred when he was a serving MP.

Wiltshire police chief constable Mike Veale said there were "compelling and obvious" reasons to investigate the allegations about Sir Edward Heath.

The report cautions: "Where it is concluded that if he had still been alive Sir Edward Heath would have been interviewed under caution to gain an account, it is emphasised that his account would be as important as other evidence gathered as part of the wider investigation".

The officer "expressed concerns" that a crown court trial in Wiltshire had been "discontinued" in 1994, to prevent the defendant publicly claiming the former Tory prime minister had been involved in child sex abuse, implying Wiltshire Police was "complicit" in covering up alleged paedophilia.

Police were given a total of 42 allegations about the ex-PM - and rejected 35 of them because they appeared to be untrue or were a case of mistaken identity.

"(He) was an extremely prominent, influential and high-profile person, arguably one of the most powerful people in the world", he said.

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These allegations include one claim of the rape of a man under 16 and four allegations of indecent assault on a man under 14.

Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale said officers have "gone where the evidence has taken us", whether it supported the allegations or not and that it would be an "indefensible dereliction" of duty to ignore them.

At a public event in Jersey in 1976 he is alleged to have indecently assaulted an adult man.

Claim: Heath allegedly indecently assaulted a man after paying him for sex in a hotel.

1967 Two years after becoming leader of the oppositon, Heath allegedly indecently assaulted a 15-year-old boy who was not known to him, in private, during a chance encounter in a public building. Further evidence is said to exist in the fuller 350-page report that has been sent in confidence to the Home Office and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Sir Edward Heath's reputation should not be left in limbo.

But the decision to investigate had been "the right moral thing, ethical thing and professional thing to do", he said.

"The investigation did not know what it did not know", he said.

Wiltshire police said in a statement: "Wiltshire Police carried out an impartial and thorough investigation in line with national guidance from the College of Policing. Heath's own evidence would have been essential to a fair process".

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