Former PM 'would have been interviewed under caution'

Former Tory MP who worked for Edward Heath This just doesn't fit

Former Tory MP who worked for Edward Heath This just doesn't fit 03:16

Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath would have been questioned under caution over allegations of rape and indecent assault of boys if he had been alive when they came to light, police say.

The report found that seven separate allegations about Heath, who was PM from 1970 to 1974, were credible enough to interview him. "Many will think it is an attempt to derail, silence and discredit the investigation before the report has been delivered".

"There were compelling and obvious reasons to investigate allegations made about Sir Edward Heath", said Mike Veale, chief constable of Wiltshire Police.

Wiltshire Police have defended their investigation into Sir Edward Heath, whose family is displeased that the investigation has left a cloud of suspicion around the former United Kingdom prime minister.

None of the allegations about which Wiltshire Police would have questioned Sir Edward relate to when he was prime minister, the force said.

Heath was ousted as Conservative Party leader in 1975 but remained a backbencher MP until 1992.

'This could be in the form of an independent review by a retired judge, with unrestricted access to all the evidence collected by the Wiltshire Police. One offence in 1964 against a boy aged 15 is alleged to have happened while Heath was secretary of state for trade and industry. He was one of the people who was around in our lives.

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, this week defended Sir Edward: 'There is a relatively low threshold for being interviewed under caution, ' he wrote in the Church Times.

Officers have been investigating sex abuse claims against Heath, who died in 2005 aged 89.

Dr Hoskins said the woman had made claims under hypnosis that dredged up "false memories" and her allegations were the result of an "over-active imagination".

1990-92 While MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Heath allegedly indecently assaulted a boy in private, during a chance encounter in private gardens.

'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.

"This would neither provide value or money or indeed a legitimate outcome of the guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath", he said.

The announcement by Wiltshire police was immediately criticised by Heath's family and supporters, who accused the force of "covering their backs at the expense of a dead man".

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".

Mr Veale added the inquiry was "politically sensitive" but denied direct pressure on investigators.

They were particularly angered that the inquiry was launched with a televised public appeal made outside Sir Edward's former stately home Arundells, a stunt which they said was a proven means of enticing fantasists to come forward.

Police interviewed Sir Edward's personal police protection officers, his drivers and staff - and also reviewed his private papers held at the Bodleian Library.

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.

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