Sir Edward Heath would have faced investigation over claims he raped young boys

Queen Elizabeth II with Sir Edward Heath at Heathrow Airport in January 1974
Queen Elizabeth II with Sir Edward Heath at Heathrow Airport in January 1974

– Details of sexual abuse and rape claims made against Sir Edward Heath revealed
– Police say former Prime Minister would have been interviewed under caution
– Most striking claim says Heath raped an 11-year-old boy in 1961 when a senior Tory MP
– Also accused of indecently assaulting 15-year-old boy in public when leader of the opposition
– Police say seven allegations would have warranted Heath being interviewed under caution
– Report’s remit did not include reaching a conclusion of guilt

Sir Edward Heath would have been investigated over a series of claims – including that he raped an 11-year-old boy and indecently assaulted a 10-year-old boy – if he was still alive, police have confirmed.

A Wiltshire Police investigation, called Operation Conifer, concluded that seven of the claims would have been sufficiently credible to justify questioning Sir Edward, who was prime minister between 1970 and 1974, under caution.

One of the most striking claims that would have been investigated is that Heath raped an 11-year-old boy in 1961 when he was a senior Tory MP and held the post of Lord Privy Seal in the MacMillan government.

The report does not address the question of Sir Edward’s guilt or innocence, because the remit of the two-year, £1.5 million inquiry was to see whether there was enough evidence to interview the former MP for Bexley, who died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.

The seven allegations police say Sir Edward would have been interviewed over were he still alive
The seven allegations police say Sir Edward would have been interviewed over were he still alive

The original allegation concerned the manager of a brothel in the Salisbury area allegedly supplying young boys to Heath.

Investigators carried out a number of sensitive enquiries with adults who, as young vulnerable teenagers, had been ‘employed’ as sex workers by the manager of the brothel. This strand of investigation identified one victim who disclosed sexual abuse by Sir Edward Heath.

None of the allegations about which Wiltshire Police would have questioned Sir Edward relate to when he was prime minister, the force said.

The Crown Prosecution Service has a policy of not making a charging decision on a suspect who is dead because they cannot be prosecuted.

The allegations Sir Edward would have been questioned over include:

  • rape of a boy aged 11

  • indecent assault of a 10-year-old boy

  • the indecent assault of a 15-year-old boy during three “paid sexual encounters”

During the course of the investigation six victims also made disclosures that included allegations that Sir Edward Heath was involved in satanic or ritual abuse.

Following investigation, no further corroborative evidence was found to support the disclosures that Sir Edward Heath was involved in ritual abuse.

The abuses are said to have occurred between 1961 and 1992 in the Met Police, Kent, Sussex, the Channel Islands and Wiltshire force areas.

Sir Edward at Wimbledon in 2003, two years before he died. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson
Sir Edward at Wimbledon in 2003, two years before he died. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson

Lord Hunt of Wirral, chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, and Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, former Cabinet Secretary, said in a statement: “The Wiltshire Police report is profoundly unsatisfactory because it neither justifies nor dispels the cloud of suspicion.”

The report concluded: “The SIO concluded that there is sufficient suspicion to have interviewed Sir Edward Heath under criminal caution regarding his suspected involvement in child sexual abuse.

“This conclusion relates to seven of the 42 disclosures that were considered by the Operation Conifer investigation.”

The report stressed that “no inference of guilt” should be made from the fact he would have faced questioning.

The 100-page “summary closure report” details 42 allegations made against Sir Edward and categorises them as:

  • Seven alleged victims whose accounts would warrant interviewing him under caution;

  • 19 cases where Sir Edward would not have been interviewed under caution because of the extent of undermining evidence;

  • 10 cases of third party disclosures;

  • Three cases of mistaken identity;

  • Three complaints made anonymously.

Sir Edward was the most high-profile political figure to be linked to child sex abuse allegations that swept across Westminster.

A raft of politicians from across the political spectrum have been accused of abusing children, including ex-home secretary Leon Brittan, former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, Liberal Democrat Sir Cyril Smith and Labour peer and former MP Lord Janner.

Edward Heath pictured in 1985 (PA Archive)
Edward Heath pictured in 1985 (PA Archive)

The report reveals that most of the alleged victims were boys aged 11 to 15 and the allegations date from 1961 when Sir Edward was lord privy seal in the Macmillan government to 1992, when he was in his 70s.

Operation Conifer was launched in 2015 after Sir Edward was named as a suspect in an investigation into historical child sex abuse.

Friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have said he was “completely asexual” and the child sex abuse allegations were “totally uncharacteristic and unlikely”.

The inquiry has proven controversial ever since it began when a senior police officer made a television appeal outside Sir Edward’s former stately home, Arundells, urging potential victims to come forward.

That officer, Superintendent Sean Memory, has since been signed off work on long-term sick leave.

Last year, the probe found no evidence that a prosecution against brothel keeper Myra Ling-Ling Forde was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward had been involved in sexual offences.

In November, Dr Rachel Hoskins, who was enlisted by detectives to examine evidence, said she had “exposed a catalogue of fabrication” at the heart of the probe and warned the force it should immediately end its investigation into a key accuser’s “pernicious” claims of satanic ritual abuse.

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