Sir Edward Heath ‘would have been questioned’ over abuse claims

 In World
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Media captionWho was Edward Heath?

Sir Edward Heath would have been questioned over sex abuse claims if he was alive when they came to light, police have said.

Wiltshire Police launched Operation Conifer in 2015 when the former PM was accused of historical child sex abuse.

The Conservative politician would have been interviewed under caution over seven claims, including the alleged rape of an 11-year-old, they said.

No inference of guilt should be drawn from this, police stressed.

The allegations include one of rape of a male under 16, three of indecent assault on a male under 16, four of indecent assault on a male under 14, and two of indecent assault on a male over 16.

‘Paid encounters’

The earliest, dating from 1961 when Sir Edward was Lord Privy Seal, alleged he had raped and indecently assaulted an 11-year-old boy in London “during a paid sexual encounter in private in a dwelling.”

Another two of the seven claims relate to “paid sexual encounters.”

The Sir Edward Heath Foundation called the report “profoundly unsatisfactory”.

In a statement, Sir Edward’s former cabinet secretary, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, and chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, Lord Hunt of Wirral, said the report neither justifies or dispels the “the cloud of suspicion”.

“All those who knew Sir Edward Heath or worked with him are, without exception, convinced that the allegations of child abuse will all be found to be groundless,” it said.

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Sir Edward, who led a Tory government in the 1970s, died in 2005, aged 89.

Operation Conifer – which spanned 14 UK police forces – said a total of 42 claims related to 40 different individuals, with alleged offences from 1956 to 1992 – while Sir Edward was an elected MP.

The report concluded there was not enough information to meet the threshold for interview for 19 of the claims.

Among these were two cases where police said there was reason to suspect the individuals “intentionally mislead” them. One of the two has been cautioned for wasting police time.

In three further cases, the investigation found that those reporting alleged abuse were “genuinely mistaken” in naming Sir Edward as the perpetrator.

As part of the £1.5m investigation, three people unconnected to Sir Edward were arrested for offences related to child abuse, one of whom is still being investigated.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said it would investigate further.

“In regard to the allegations concerning Sir Edward Heath, the inquiry will investigate whether there was any knowledge within Westminster institutions, and if so, what actions were taken,” a spokesman said.

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Media captionLincoln Seligman, Sir Edward’s godson, talks to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme

Ahead of the “closure” report’s publication, Sir Edward’s godson said he believed the investigation was flawed and called for a judicial inquiry into the police’s handling of the abuse claims.

Lincoln Seligman, who knew Sir Edward for 50 years, said: “If you make a mass appeal for victims you are sure to get them, whether they are legitimate or not.

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