Sir Edward Heath child abuse claims 'are the result of false memories'

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Child sex abuse allegations against former prime minister Sir Edward Heath have been dismissed as a fantasy in an official report, it has been claimed.

A review of claims against the late Conservative politician for Wiltshire Police found that they were probably the result of "false memories" linked to discredited news reports of "satanic" abuse in the 1980s, the Mail on Sunday reported.

It also said that Sir Edward's female accuser had links to "Nick", whose claims to the Operation Midland investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring have been widely discredited.

Criminologist Dr Rachel Hoskins, who carried out the review for Wiltshire Police, told the newspaper: "The Heath inquiry rests, like the Westminster VIP inquiry, on over-active imagination."

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said the report was "only small part of a very complex and sensitive investigation".

Earlier this month two people were arrested and bailed by detectives working on Operation Conifer, launched in August last year after Sir Edward was named as a suspect in an investigation into historical child sex abuse.

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

He became the most high-profile figure linked to historical abuse allegations last year.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission launched a probe into alleged historical corruption after information from a retired officer raised concerns that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail 22 years ago.

Earlier this year the probe found no evidence that a prosecution against a brothel keeper was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward had been involved in sexual offences.

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said the force was "disappointed that information relating a confidential report has been leaked and potentially may have impact upon those who have disclosed abuse to us".

She added: "This investigation is complex and multi-stranded. There are a number of allegations with a significant number of individuals who have disclosed allegations of abuse. In addition to this there are a number of investigations that have fallen out of the main investigation that we are pursuing.

"This report forms part of a live allegation. When we receive an allegation we are duty bound to investigate and we go impartially where the evidence takes us."