Saturday 1 October 2016

Scotland Yard 'probes child sex abuse claims' against former British PM Ted Heath

Published 04/08/2015 | 12:42

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath waves as he arrives at number 10 Downing Street in London in this file photo dated April 29, 2002. REUTERS/STR
Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath waves as he arrives at number 10 Downing Street in London in this file photo dated April 29, 2002. REUTERS/STR

Sir Edward Heath is being investigated by Scotland Yard over child sex abuse allegations, according to reports.

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The former Prime Minister is being looked at as part of Operation Midland, an inquiry into claims a VIP paedophile ring operated in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the BBC.

On Monday it emerged that the police watchdog was investigating allegations that a prosecution against an individual was shelved after a threat was made to "expose" the late politician.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is also looking into whether Wiltshire Police followed up a claim against Heath made in the 1990s.

The force has issued an appeal for potential victims to come forward, while a man claimed he was raped at the age of 12 by the former PM.

A woman who was in charge of a brothel had been due to stand trial, but said she would expose the top politician, according to reports.

Former Conservative prime ministers Edward Heath and Baroness Thatcher, who replaced him, listen to speeches at the Conservative Party annual conference in Bournemouth in 1998. The two had a frosty and acrimonious political relationship.
Former Conservative prime ministers Edward Heath and Baroness Thatcher, who replaced him, listen to speeches at the Conservative Party annual conference in Bournemouth in 1998. The two had a frosty and acrimonious political relationship.
File photo dated 11/02/74 of Edward Heath, as the handling of a child sex abuse claim involving the former prime minister is to be investigated by watchdogs. PA Wire

Meanwhile an alleged victim, now aged in his 60s, has claimed he reported being sexually assaulted by the Conservative MP in 1961 but was branded "a liar and a fantasist".

He alleged Heath picked him up along the A2 road in north Kent as he hitched a lift.

He claimed to have gone back to an apartment in Park Lane, London where he was raped, the Daily Mirror reported.

It was not until 1965 that he realised who his abuser was, recognising him from a picture in a newspaper in which Heath was standing beside Margaret Thatcher.

File photo dated 10/10/73 of Edward Heath, as the handling of a child sex abuse claim involving the former prime minister is to be investigated by watchdogs. PA Wire
File photo dated 10/10/73 of Edward Heath, as the handling of a child sex abuse claim involving the former prime minister is to be investigated by watchdogs. PA Wire

In statements to his legal team reported in the newspaper he said: "I learned that he was MP for Bexley. This answered a lot of questions as to why no-one believed me about the London saga."

Wiltshire Police have appealed for potential victims of Heath to come forward, after launching an inquiry on the back of allegations made by a retired senior officer.

Labour MP Tom Watson has claimed he received information relating to allegations of child abuse involving the late politician in 2012.

The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said: "We welcome the investigation by Wiltshire Police, which we wholeheartedly believe will clear Sir Edward's name and we will co-operate fully with the police in their inquiries."

Former Conservative MP Brian Binley, who worked in Sir Edward's office for a period of time, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I find it very difficult to believe from the Ted Heath that I knew.

"There are many unanswered questions here and I don't think it would be right and fair to jump to conclusions about a man who served his country with dignity and with care, who was a considerable intellect, loved his music, was I think told by the central office to get an interest so became one of the best sailors in the country, captaining our Admiral's Cup team.

"We must be very careful. It's easy to smear people not around."

Heath, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, never married and was famously reticent about his private life.

One biographer concluded that he may have been a latent or repressed homosexual while another thought he was "pretty well sexless".

Away from politics he was noted for his enthusiasm for sailing and classical music.

He died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.

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