Ted Heath is the most senior politician yet to be named in the ongoing UK police investigation into VIP child sex abuse.
The allegations against the former Tory PM come from not one but a number of men who claim they were child victims of rape, including a man who claims he was raped by Heath in his Park Lane flat at the age of 12 in 1961.
It has taken years, even decades, for the police to investigate. And yet again the voices of the alleged victims have only been heard long after the accused man is dead.
But some people are asking if it is really fair to drag Heath's name through the mud with no prospect of any satisfactory end. After all, 10 years after his death, he can neither prove his innocence nor face any punishment if he is found guilty, so what's the point of investigating the events of long ago?
Police resources are limited, I've heard it claimed, so wouldn't it be better if they spent their money and time investigating crimes that are being committed against children right now, today, not five decades ago?
What's the point of naming and shaming dead men who can never be tried for their alleged crimes when thousands of children are being abused by paedophiles alive and well today?
The point is actually very simple: we need to learn from the mistakes of the past if we are to prevent the same mistakes happening in the future.
I have absolutely no doubt that a large number of powerful men - politicians, royals, judges, police officers, the military, businessmen and others - have been getting away with the sexual abuse of children for years.
I am also convinced that the cover-up of this abuse was systematic, goes right to the very top of our society and was effectively condoned by the powers that be or, at the very least, a blind eye was turned to what was seen as harmless "kiddy-fiddling".
The children were seen as expendable pawns in a much bigger game of politics, money, power and national security.
There will always be evil people who do evil things to children. Most of them aren't VIPs and most of them get away with their crimes not because of a cover-up by MI5, as was alleged in the Cyril Smith abuse, but because their victims are too scared to speak out and don't think they will be believed.
The moral responsibility, then, is on the good people who witness or find out about those unspeakable crimes - whether they may have been committed by a prime minister or a dustman - to make sure the victims get justice and to protect children from abuse in the future.
Yet even when victims and good people did speak out, as they did many times in the case of the prolific paedophile Jimmy Savile, they have been threatened and forced to either keep quiet or were simply ignored.
While the abuse is horrific, for me it is the cover-up of the abuse that is the most heinous crime of all. Because those people weren't paedophiles, they were (and are) people who knew better and who, if they had acted, could have saved those children.
The investigation into Heath is not a muck-raking exercise or an attempt to vilify the private life of a man who - nudge-nudge-wink-wink - chose never to marry.
While the abuse is horrific, for me it is the cover-up of the abuse that is the most heinous crime of all. His name, for anyone who cared to look, has been all over the internet in connection with child abuse for years.
And while those websites used to look like they were written by conspiracy theorists and the mentally unsound (or often both), as time passes their claims are increasingly credible.
A former very senior police officer told me a year ago that Heath's name had cropped up in the paedophile investigations and a charity helping victims of child sex abuse confirmed that Heath's name was on the list of VIP suspects they had passed to police.
He may be an innocent man, or he may be guilty as hell. We don't know yet, and it is possible that we may never know.
But don't we owe the many victims of child abuse in the past a duty to try to expose the truth, even after so many years have passed?
Because if we aren't willing to expose what really happened 50 years ago, then what are the chances that we will ever face up to the truth of what happened to children behind closed doors last night - let alone what is still being covered up?
(© Daily Telegraph)
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