Saturday 3 December 2016

Sir Edward Heath: Ex-brothel keeper denies accusing him of child abuse

Hayden Smith

Published 05/08/2015 | 18:57

Edward Heath aboard his yacht Morning Cloud at Gosport, as three police forces are now investigating claims of child sex abuse involving the former prime minister. Photo: PA
Edward Heath aboard his yacht Morning Cloud at Gosport, as three police forces are now investigating claims of child sex abuse involving the former prime minister. Photo: PA

A former brothel keeper at the centre of the Sir Edward Heath child sex storm has denied threatening to expose him.

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Myra Ling-Ling Forde reportedly insisted she had no involvement with the former Prime Minister and "no knowledge of any misconduct on his part".

It has also emerged the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) will consider allegations against Sir Edward "should the facts justify it".

Forde broke her silence over claims she threatened to expose Sir Edward as a paedophile.

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

She has been named in reports as the person alleged to have escaped prosecution in the early 1990s after saying she would link Sir Edward to child sex claims.

The claim is at the centre of a corruption inquiry launched earlier this week by the police watchdog.

Read more: Ted Heath sex abuse claims: Five police forces receive allegations

In a statement Forde's former solicitor Richard Griffiths told the Salisbury Journal: "My firm acted for Myra Forde in relation to the case which the prosecution discontinued on the day of the trial and which has been the subject of a great deal of speculation.

"My former client wishes me to make it very clear that at no stage did she state that Ted Heath was a client and at no stage did she threaten to expose him as a client of hers if the prosecution was continued.

"For the avoidance of any doubt Myra Forde wishes me to make it clear that she had no involvement with Ted Heath of any kind and has no knowledge of any misconduct on his part.

"It is my recollection, assisted by discussion with my colleague who was at Winchester Crown Court on the day the case was discontinued, and by the barrister we instructed to represent Myra Forde, that the prosecution had witness problems.

"In particular it may have been the case that one of the witnesses was at court in the cells and perhaps therefore not best inclined to assist the prosecution.

"The prosecution took what at the time seemed a sensible decision that they could not prove their case and offered no evidence.

Read more: Ted Heath sex abuse claims: Five police forces receive allegations

"This decision would have been announced in open court and would be a matter of record."

Forde, 67, a Filipino, was later convicted on two separate occasions of offences related to running a brothel from a residential property in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the IICSA, which is led by Justice Lowell Goddard, said it was aware of the allegations against Sir Edward.

She said: "As chair of the Inquiry, Lowell Goddard has earlier made clear, she is leading the strand of the Inquiry that looks at all allegations relating to Westminster and will determine their relevance to the Inquiry.

"The Inquiry's terms of reference are broad and it is mandated to investigate institutional failures to protect children across a range of institutions, including Westminster.

"Should the facts justify it, the emerging allegations about the former prime minister will form part of the inquiry's investigations."

At least five police forces are investigating claims involving Sir Edward, who is the most high-profile figure linked to historical paedophile allegations.

Former friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have rallied to his defence.

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."

Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said: "Staff from Operation Hydrant are working closely with relevant forces to assess the extent of reported information concerning the late Sir Edward Heath, and at the conclusion of that process a lead force will be appointed to oversee the police investigations."

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