Sir Edward Heath: Seven police forces investigating child sex claims


At least seven police forces are carrying out investigations linked to child sex claims against the late Sir Edward Heath.

Gloucestershire Police today said they had received an allegation against the former prime minister.

The complaint has been passed to Operation Hydrant, a national hub overseeing inquiries into historical abuse around the country.

Thames Valley Police said they have "received information" which is being investigated.

Detectives in Wiltshire, Kent, Jersey, Hampshire and London are also looking into abuse allegations linked to Sir Edward.

In addition, North Yorkshire Police said they are checking their records for any mention of Sir Edward after a photograph emerged of him meeting Peter Jaconelli, a suspected paedophile and friend of Jimmy Savile.

However, the force stressed it is "not currently investigating any complaints linked to Edward Heath".

The National Police Chiefs' Council has said a lead police force will be appointed to oversee police investigations involving Sir Edward.

Meanwhile, fresh questions have emerged about the corruption allegations that led the late MP to become the highest profile figure linked to historical paedophile claims.

An investigation was launched earlier this week after allegations a defendant, named in reports as former brothel keeper Myra Ling-Ling Forde, had escaped prosecution after saying they would "expose" Sir Edward.

However, in a statement Forde's former lawyer said she wanted to make clear that she had no involvement with the former PM, did not threaten to expose him as a client and had "no knowledge of any misconduct on his part".

The mystery deepened on Thursday when the prosecuting barrister at the time said claims against Sir Edward played no part in the decision to drop the case in question in the early 1990s.

It did not proceed because of a lack of evidence, Judge Nigel Seed QC said.

He said he had been told by police that the large number of reporters at the court that day were there because Forde, who had been on bail, had said she would allege she had provided rent boys for Sir Edward, should the case proceed.

In a letter to The Times Judge Seed referred to the claims at the time as "nothing other than unsubstantiated assertions of a defendant in advance of a criminal trial".

He added: "The decision for the case to proceed no further was mine and was based on the lack of evidence and had nothing whatsoever to do with any potential allegations against Edward Heath."

Forde, 67, a Filipino, was later convicted on two separate occasions of offences related to running a brothel from a residential property in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe declined to comment on whether the Independent Police Complaints Commission was right to identify Sir Edward, saying: "I don't know the full reasons why the IPCC in this case said what they said."

Scotland Yard has refused to confirm that claims about the former PM are being looked at as part of an inquiry into alleged abuse by establishment figures, saying it does not provide a "running commentary" on the operation.

Sir Bernard said his force has been "consistent" on the issue.

"We will try our best to preserve their anonymity," he said. "For two reasons - the victims deserve it and secondly I think the suspects deserve it. We don't name."

Former friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have rallied to defend his reputation.

The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said: "We welcome the investigation by Wiltshire Police, which we wholeheartedly believe will clear Sir Edward's name and we will co-operate fully with the police in their inquiries."

Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.