Thursday 14 November 2019

More come forward to allege they were abused by Heath

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
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.
Edward Heath, as the handling of a child sex abuse claim involving the former prime minister is to be investigated by watchdogs. Photo: PA

Martin Evans in London

Alleged victims of Sir Edward Heath have come forward since detectives appealed for information over child sex abuse allegations.

Wiltshire Police said the force and the NSPCC had received a "number of calls" following appeals for information. A spokesman added: "The investigation team will be reviewing the information and following up any lines of inquiry."

Two other police forces are also investigating claims of child sex abuse involving Heath.

The States of Jersey Police in the Channel Islands confirmed that the former British prime minister features in Operation Whistle, an inquiry into alleged historic abuse on the island.

Earlier, reports emerged that Heath is being looked at as part of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Midland, a Scotland Yard inquiry into claims that a VIP paedophile ring operated in the 1970s and 1980s.

On Monday, Wiltshire Police appealed for potential victims or witnesses to come forward after the late politician became the most high-profile figure to be embroiled in historical abuse claims.

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.

Heath, who led the Conservative Government between 1970 and 1974, bought his Salisbury home, Arundells, in 1985 and lived there until his death a decade ago.

He was famously reticent about his private life and while rumours often swirled, this is the first time that the unmarried former prime minister's name has publicly surfaced in connection with child abuse.

A spokeswoman for the States of Jersey Police (SoJP) confirmed that the force is aware of an Independent Police Complaints Commission corruption probe linked to allegations against Heath.

Sir Edward, who was prime minister for four years in the 1970s, is the highest-profile figure to be embroiled in historic abuse allegations against prominent figures.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is also looking into whether Wiltshire Police followed up a claim against Heath that was made in the 1990s. A man claimed that he was raped at the age of 12.

The accuser has claimed that he was abused in 1961 in London's Mayfair while Heath was an MP.

In a letter to his solicitors, he wrote: "I don't know how the conversation got round to sex. After having a shower, he said that he only had one bedroom and that if I was OK with that I could share his bed."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking into whether Wiltshire Police followed up a claim against Sir Edward, which was made in the 1990s.

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.

It is claimed that the woman was arrested in the 1990s for running a vice den and was due to stand trial for her crimes but, it is alleged, senior police officers intervened to protect her.

A retired detective reportedly came forward in June last year to claim that the allegations against Heath were never properly investigated.

During his 51 years in the House of Commons the rumours swirled around Heath. Now, a decade after his death, the former prime minister's sexual leanings have again become subject to public attention.

Heath had his own brush with scandal earlier in the 1970s, when a book by a Cold War spy claimed that he was the target of an attempted honeytrap in the 1950s, in which the Czechoslovakian secret service planned to invite him to Prague, where he was to be seduced and blackmailed by a man. Heath turned the invitation down and the incident was played down.

There was one lasting repercussion, however, as the satirical magazine 'Private Eye' began referring to him as 'Sailor Ted', a pun on his love of yachting and perceived homosexuality: sailor in some circles was a term for a gay man.

UK authorities have spent more than three years investigating decades-old allegations of sexual abuse made against celebrities, some of whom have been given lengthy jail terms after being found guilty.

The probes began in 2012 with accusations against the late BBC TV star Jimmy Savile, triggering a scandal at the broadcaster.

The British government has set up an independent inquiry into whether public bodies and other institutions failed to protect children from abuse.

Irish Independent

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