'No evidence' prosecution of woman shelved over alleged Sir Edward Heath link


An investigation has found no evidence that a prosecution was shelved because a defendant threatened to allege publicly that Sir Edward Heath had been involved in sexual offences.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission launched a probe into alleged historical corruption after a retired officer raised concerns that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994.

It was alleged that the defendant had threatened to tell the press she supplied former prime minister Sir Edward with males under the age of consent for sex if the trial went ahead.

Investigators examined the circumstances around the outcome of the court case relating to former brothel-owner Myra Ling Ling Forde, in February 1994.

The IPCC said the inquiry "has found no evidence that a prosecution was not pursued because a defendant threatened to allege publicly that Sir Edward Heath had been involved in sexual offences involving young men".

The watchdog said it found no evidence to support the suggestion that the alleged comment had any bearing on the outcome of the trial against Ms Forde.

It also found no evidence that other officers within Wiltshire were aware of the alleged comment and failed to act upon it.

The IPCC said: "The investigation concluded that the trial against Ms Forde was stopped by the prosecution because their witnesses would not attend court or refused to give evidence."

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.

After the IPCC investigation was announced, Wiltshire Police appealed for potential victims and others with information to come forward.

In the days that followed, it emerged that a number of other forces were also carrying out inquiries linked to allegations against Sir Edward.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Wiltshire Police said in a statement: "As a result of the announcement by the IPCC naming Sir Edward Heath, Wiltshire Police felt it was appropriate to make an appeal to the public for any information relating to the allegation.

"As a result of the appeal, a number of people individually came forward with information.

"This led to a wider police investigation being established and we are following a number of lines of inquiry."

Wiltshire Police were appointed as the lead national force for the investigation into allegations of historical child sex abuse relating to Sir Edward.

It said: "At this time, the investigation led by Wiltshire Police continues and a panel of independent experts outside of policing is providing ongoing scrutiny of the investigation and its proportionality."

The IPCC's conclusions were revealed a day after it emerged that the police inquiry into historical abuse claims has cost £367,965 so far.