Former UK PM would be questioned over rape

Former UK PM would be questioned over rape

Former UK PM would be questioned over rape

"There were compelling and obvious reasons to investigate allegations made about Sir Edward Heath", said Mike Veale, chief constable of Wiltshire Police.

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 Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, this week defended Sir Edward: 'There is a relatively low threshold for being interviewed under caution, ' he wrote in the Church Times.

The allegations made against Heath 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. In 1967, indecently assaulting a 15-year-old male in private "during a chance encounter in a public building".

The report was attacked by Heath's friends and former colleagues. That will go to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse set up by the government.

One of the people was cautioned by officers while another is now being investigated.

In two cases, the report reveals, there is evidence to suggest those making the claims "may have attempted to intentionally mislead the police" in naming Sir Edward as their abuser.

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

A criminal investigation is still underway regarding one of those two people, it states.

In their concluding report, released on Thursday, they said that in relation to seven of the alleged victims, the evidence they gathered would have warranted Sir Edward's interview under caution.

Claim: Heath allegedly raped and indecently assaulted a boy, 11, during a paid sexual encounter. Operation Conifer has also led to the investigation of other suspects.

Therefore, the findings in the report published today do not state whether Sir Edward Heath was guilty of any criminal offences or comment on the prospect of a successful prosecution had he been alive today.

He died on July 17, 2005 aged 89 after suffering from a pulmonary embolism a few years before.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "We urge anyone who has been abused in childhood to report it, however long ago it took place".

"In the meantime, a fundamental, time-honoured principle should be respected, namely that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty".

Heath's godson Lincoln Seligman told Sky News: The police have acted as judge and jury and have convicted Heath, as it were, in his absence - but in his absence because he is not here - he is dead.

Of the 42 allegations identified by Operation Conifer, seven are considered credible enough to question Sir Edward but 22 have been dismissed as unsustainable while 13 are hard to take any further because they were made either anonymously or by third parties.

Heath's reputation should not be left in limbo, his former colleagues said.

Sir Edward was born in Kent in 1916 and studied at Balliol College Oxford, becoming president of the Oxford Union.

'I recognise that this investigation, the findings and the summary closure report may raise further questions.

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