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Sir Edward Heath abuse claims

Sir Edward Heath abuse claims

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

The disclosures made against Sir Edward related to alleged offences of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse against an adult.

Sir Edward was in power between 1970 and 1974.

Finally, in 1992 Heath allegedly indecently assaulted an adult man after consent was withdrawn.

One offence of sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred in 1967 while Heath was leader of the Conservative party; another when he was trade minister in 1964.

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 in the Macmillan government, to 1992, when he was in his 70s. Around 1991, indecently assaulting a male aged between 12 and 14 during a "chance encounter in private gardens". He was one of the shorter-lived prime ministers of the 20th century, serving for three years and eight months, and his time in office was characterised by gloom and industrial chaos.

"Of the large pool of allegations contained in today's report, six of them would definitively have led the police to interview Sir Edward under caution".

In the case of a further 19 allegations, the availability of "undermining information" would have meant that Heath would not have been interviewed in relation to them.

The investigation dealt with 42 claims in total.

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The investigation, which drew to a close in August, was sparked by a wave of allegations of historic sexual abuse following the death of DJ Jimmy Savile in 2011. A statement earlier this year said: "A panel of independent experts outside of policing are providing ongoing scrutiny of the investigation to ensure its proportionality and justification".

Following its release on Thursday, Lord Hunt of Wirral, chair of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, and Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, former Cabinet Secretary, released a joint statement slamming the report as "profoundly unsatisfactory".

"Likewise, it is equally as important for people not to speculate about the veracity of the allegations against Sir Edward Heath".

Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale said officers have "gone where the evidence has taken us", whether it supported the allegations or not and that it would be an "indefensible dereliction" of duty to ignore them. The report says the alleged incident happened within the London area covered by the Metropolitan police.

He recommended against asking a retired judge to assess the evidence and pronounce a verdict. Sir Edward Heath's reputation should not be left in limbo.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said it would investigate further.

'I believe this was the right moral, ethical and professional thing to do, but I appreciate that every case needs to be judged on its own merits.

"The safeguarding and protection of vulnerable people will continue to be out primary reasons for conducting this investigation".

"My team has not deviated from this legal and professional responsibility", Veale said.

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