LONDON: A controversial police enquiry released on Thursday (Oct 5), revealing that the former prime minister Sir Edward Heath would have had to answer allegations he raped and indecently assaulted an 11-year-old boy if he were still alive.
Wiltshire Police, which has been investigating the claims for two years, said seven of the 40 allegations were credible enough to justify questioning him under caution.
It published its “summary closure report” into Heath, who was better known as Ted and was prime minister from 1970 to 1974. The probe, called Operation Conifer, was launched in 2015 after Heath, who died in 2005, was named as a suspect in an investigation into historical child sex abuse.
It looked into 42 allegations from 40 people. The offending was alleged to have taken place between 1956 and 1992. “No inference of guilt should be drawn by the decision to interview under caution. The account from Sir Edward Heath would have been as important as other evidence gathered as part of the wider investigation,” Wiltshire Police said.
The police investigation has been accused of proceeding on the basis of little evidence. The findings will be passed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is being chaired by Professor Alexis Jay.
Reports at the weekend claimed Wiltshire Police, which conducted the £1.5 million investigation, believed it would have had enough grounds to interview the late politician under caution if he was still alive.
Operation Conifer has proven controversial since a senior police officer made a television appeal outside Sir Edward’s former home in Salisbury urging victims to come forward. Friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have said he was “completely asexual” and the child sex abuse allegations were “totally uncharacteristic and unlikely”.
Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government from 1970 to 1974, died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.