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Thursday 29 September 2016

Sir Edward Heath sex abuse claims: Fifth police force receives allegations

Hayden Smith and Tim Moynihan

Published 04/08/2015 | 17:55

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

A fifth police force has received allegations against Sir Edward Heath.

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It was known that detectives in Wiltshire, London, Kent and Jersey were looking at sex abuse allegations linked to the former prime minister.

Tonight Hampshire confirmed that it was also investigating claims.

It said: "We are investigating allegations, we have nothing further to add at this stage.

"Please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk as they have dedicated staff in place to deal with victims or if you have information that may help police please call us via 101."

Earlier today Sir Edward was named in connection with inquiries in London, Kent and Jersey.

On Monday Wiltshire Police appealed for potential victims and witnesses to come forward after the late politician became the most high-profile figure embroiled in historical child sex claims.

Reports subsequently emerged that Sir Edward is being looked at as part of Operation Midland, a Scotland Yard inquiry into claims a VIP paedophile ring operated in the 1970s and 1980s.

Operation Midland is part of a wider umbrella of investigations by Scotland Yard, dubbed Operation Fairbank, into allegations of abuse involving senior politicians and high-profile figures.

A man, now aged in his 60s, claimed he was raped at the age of 12 by the Conservative MP in 1961 but was branded "a liar and a fantasist" when he reported it to social workers two months later.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "In April 2015 an allegation of rape was made to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

"An officer from Operation Fairbank interviewed the complainant that same month and obtained a full account. Support services were offered.

"However, after a full assessment of the allegation there were no lines of inquiry that could proportionately be pursued by the MPS."

He said the force was not prepared to discuss why that decision had been taken.

The States of Jersey Police (SoJP) confirmed the former prime minister features in Operation Whistle, an inquiry in to alleged historical abuse on the island.

Operation Whistle was launched by police in Jersey in June as part of Operation Hydrant, a UK-wide co-ordination of sex abuse probes.

Later, Kent Police said they had received a report today of a sexual assault in the east of the county in the 1960s.

A spokesman said: "The victim has named Sir Edward Heath in connection with the allegation. Detectives are making initial inquiries and will obtain a full account from the victim."

Wiltshire Police said its officers and the NSPCC had received "a number of calls" following appeals for information.

The force said in a statement: "The investigation team will be reviewing the information and following up any lines of inquiry as a result."

A spokeswoman said they were unable to confirm how many people had made contact and the "validity" of the calls was not known at this stage.

They have received a mixture of "intelligence" and "third party" calls, she added.

Sir Edward's name was dramatically linked to paedophile claims on Monday when the police watchdog announced an inquiry into allegations that a prosecution against an individual was shelved after a threat was made to "expose" him.

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

The IPCC is also looking into whether Wiltshire Police followed up a claim made against him in the 1990s.

Labour MP Tom Watson has claimed he passed information relating to two allegations of child abuse involving Sir Edward to police since 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.

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

Sir Edward, 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. Sir Edward died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.

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