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

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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 two years ago after the former Conservative prime minister was accused of historical child sex abuse.

He would have been interviewed under caution over seven claims, including the rape of an 11-year-old, they said.
No inference of guilt should be drawn from this fact, 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.

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.

Sir Edward, who led a Tory government in the 1970s, died in 2005, aged 89.
Operation Conifer said a total of 42 claims related to 40 different individuals, with alleged offences spanning 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.
In three of the 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, two people were arrested and released. There have been no charges.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said it will 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.

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.
“A proper investigation should have taken place, but that’s not what happened,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We had really quite a close relationship… and I think I did know him very well.
“Our thinking is that he will be completely exonerated but I fear, even if he is, that damage has been done and that seems grossly unfair.”
Other friends of Sir Edward’s have also criticised the investigation, and a psychologist who advised detectives claimed it was based on the allegations of a handful of fantasists.
One of Sir Edward’s closest advisers told the BBC that the former Conservative leader was “completely asexual”.
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster said he “never felt a whiff of sexuality about Ted Heath, whether it was in relation to women, men or children”.

1950: Heath becomes Conservative MP for Bexley in south-east London, a seat he will represent for 50 years
1965: He takes over as Conservative Party leader – the first in modern times who is not from an upper-class background
1970: Heath defies expectations to beat his great rival, Labour’s Harold Wilson, in a general election
1973: He fulfils his long-held ambition of taking Britain into the European Community
1974: Heath calls a general election, which results in a hung parliament, with Labour’s Wilson winning a majority in a second election later that year
1975: Margaret Thatcher ousts Heath as party leader, a betrayal he never forgives her for
1990: Heath comes face to face with Saddam Hussein to get British hostages released during the Gulf War.

During the course of the lengthy investigation, the police have defended their response, with Chief Constable Veale insisting Operation Conifer was neither a “fishing trip” nor a “witch-hunt”.

Following the report’s release, Chief Constable Veale said officers have “gone where the evidence has taken us”, whether it supported the allegations or not.
He said: “The report does not draw any conclusions as to the likely guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath.

“I am satisfied there are compelling and obvious reasons to investigate allegations made against Sir Edward Heath.”
The findings of the investigation will be passed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
Sir Edward, who lived in Salisbury, Wiltshire, led the Conservative government from 1970 to 1974.

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