FORMER Prime Minister Ted Heath may have been a predatory paedophile who raped a young boy, a bombshell report claimed today.
Operation Conifer was a national investigation, led by Wiltshire Police on behalf of the National Police Service, into allegations of non-recent child abuse made against Sir Edward.
Mr Veale, who has faced considerable criticism over the course of the investigation, said the allegations were of the "utmost seriousness" and stemmed from a significant number of people.
Heath died at his home in Salisbury in July 2005 aged 89, which means the claims against him can not be heard at trial and prosecutors can not say whether or not they would have brought charges. He remains the only British Prime Minister to have won a major worldwide sporting trophy whilst in office. The alleged rape is claimed to have occurred in 1961 with the alleged victim being 11 years old.
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A raft of politicians from across the spectrum have been accused of abusing children, including Liberal Democrat Sir Cyril Smith and Labour peer and former MP Lord Janner. At the time Heath was MP for Bexley and Lord Privy Seal in Harold Macmillan's government with responsibility for negotiating the UK's first attempt to join the European Economic Community.
Wiltshire Police said seven historic claims spanning from 1956 to 1992 would have been sufficiently credible to justify interviewing the former Conservative Prime Minister under caution. We should not allow that shadow to hang over him for all time'. Many other charges were dismissed in the report.
Lord Macdonald, the country's former top prosecutor, said police had been trying to "cover their backs" at the expense of a man who can't defend himself.
But the decision to investigate had been "the right moral thing, ethical thing and professional thing to do", he said. "It didn't know the circumstances, veracity, the risks, the complications, implications or other vulnerability factors - until a proportionate, professional and objective investigation was conducted it would be impossible to identify and safeguard any children and other vulnerable adults who may be at risk today". Early on he was just a friend of my parents and I treated him as that.
One of the people was cautioned by officers while another is now being investigated.
Garnier said that police forces were embarking upon unnecessary inquiries into high profile abuse as they struggle to recover their reputations following the failure to prosecute the former BBC personality Jimmy Savile.
Sir Edward's godson, Lincoln Seligman, told Sky News: "What I want is a judge-led inquiry to look at those allegations as evidence - which is what the police have not done".
Veale denied the investigation into Heath was a "fishing expedition" or "witch hunt" and vowed not to bow to "unacceptable" media pressure.
He became immobile in the last years of his life and only made a few public appearances.
The disclosures made against Sir Edward related to alleged offences of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse against an adult.
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