Late UK PM Heath suspected of sexually abusing five boys

  • Late UK PM Heath suspected of sexually abusing five boys

Late UK PM Heath suspected of sexually abusing five boys

The £1.5m operation, codenamed Conifer, only aimed to assess whether there would have been enough evidence to question the late MP for Bexley, who died in 2005.

'Accordingly it is critical to stress that no inference of guilty should be drawn from the fact that Heath would have been interviewed under caution'.

Wiltshire Police in southern England, which led the two-year investigation into Heath, published a report on its findings Thursday and outlined seven allegations of abuse of children and adults that investigators would have pursued, including the alleged rape of an 11-year-old boy in 1961 in a "paid sexual encounter".

In December chief constable Mike Veale wrote a public letter to "set the record straight".

However, the report also said "the role of the police in a criminal investigation is not to reach a conclusion as to the likely guilt or innocence of a person who is subject to allegations".

"In the case of six individual disclosures, if Sir Edward Heath had been alive he would have been interviewed under caution in order to obtain his account in relation to the allegations made against him", the report by police in the south-west county of Wiltshire stated.

"There have been many views expressed as to whether the police should investigate alleged offences committed by a deceased suspect", he said.

Among them, the former television presenter Jimmy Savile was found to have abused children while working for the BBC, and police concluded after the death of the ex-lawmaker Cyril Smith that he should have been charged on three occasions in the 1960s and 1990s over claims of indecent assault.

Of those, 19 were found not to meet the threshold for interview, three complaints were withdrawn, 10 were reported by a third party and another three allegations were made anonymously.

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

This week the Tory leader's godson, Lincoln Seligman, told the Guardian that Supt Veale was "acting as judge and jury" and had "already convicted" Mr Heath.

In a statement, Heath's former cabinet secretary, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, and chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, Lord Hunt of Wirral, said the report neither justifies or dispels the "the cloud of suspicion".

As prime minister, he took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973 and was known as a dour bachelor who loved sailing and classical music.

"Furthermore, in line with recognised best practice, Wiltshire Police recently commissioned Operation Hydrant to undertake an independent review of the investigation to ensure its ongoing proportionality and justification".

"We would like it to be looked at by an objective mind".

Operation Conifer - which spanned 14 police force areas in the United Kingdom and Channel Islands - was launched by Wiltshire Police into allegations that the former PM and MP for Bexley Heath had been involved in a number of alleged sex assaults.

Dr Hoskins said the woman had made claims under hypnosis that dredged up "false memories" and her allegations were the result of an "over-active imagination".

He said the police had the duty to protect and safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

The announcement by Wiltshire police was immediately criticised by Heath's family and supporters, who accused the force of "covering their backs at the expense of a dead man".

A disclosure was made to officers in 2014 and this was then referred to Operation Conifer in 2015.

"The safeguarding and protection of vulnerable people will continue to be out primary reasons for conducting this investigation".

Sir Edward was the most high-profile political figure to be linked to child sex abuse allegations that swept across Westminster.