In Depth

Edward Heath paedophile probe widens

The independent child sex abuse inquiry will examine an ‘explosive report’ on the former PM

The investigation into allegations that former prime minister Sir Ted Heath was a paedophile has been dramatically widened, the The Mail on Sunday reports.

The paper says the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, set up to investigate claims that a Westminster paedophile ring was covered up by the establishment, will examine the findings of an “explosive police report into claims that the former prime minister was a child abuser”.

What does the report say?

Due to be published in the next few weeks, the confidential report is the outcome of Operation Conifer, a two-year inquiry set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Earlier this year it was reported that more than 30 people had come forward with claims of sexual abuse by the former Conservative peer, who died in 2005.

In December, lead investigator Chief Constable Mike Veale was forced to deny he was running a “witch hunt” and said he was resisting pressure to call off the investigation because he believed some claims were “120 per cent genuine”.

A police source told the Mail that “the same names used for [Heath], the same places and same type of incidents keep coming up” and “what stands out is that the people giving these accounts are not connected but the stories and the details dovetail”.

Last week, the The Daily Telegraph reported that dozens of people encouraged by police to accuse Heath of child sex abuse stand to earn tens of thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded compensation.

An establishment stitch-up?

Several Conservative politicians have called Operation Conifer, which has cost £2m, a waste of time and public money and said it was pointless because Heath died 12 years ago and can never be prosecuted.

Supporters of the former prime minister “have warned that Wiltshire Police could use the role of the inquiry to bury the findings”, the Telegraph reported last month. But one Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, praised Veale and warned his party not to try and stop his findings from being published.

Was there a cover-up at the time?

This is not the first investigation into Heath. In the 1990s, the Independent Police Complaints Commission began investigating whether a claim that Heath has been abusing boys in Wiltshire had been handled properly.

A retired senior officer alleged that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994 after the defendant, a brothel owner, threatened to tell the press she supplied Heath with underage boys for sex if the trial went ahead. “But the trial was dropped because witnesses refused to testify, the IPCC said, and it found no evidence of wrongdoing,” reports The Independent.

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