Prime Minister Edward Heath, Queen Elizabeth II, U.S. President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon during the Nixons’ visit to the United Kingdom
By Michael Daventry
Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath is the subject of five separate police investigations into claims that he sexually abused children, local media reported on Wednesday.
Heath, who died in 2005 aged 89, was premier between 1970 and 1974 before being ousted as Conservative Party leader by Margaret Thatcher in 1975.
The inquiries by police forces in London, Wiltshire, Kent, Hampshire and Jersey emerged after a former detective in Wiltshire, the county in southwestern England where Heath lived for much of his life, claimed a criminal case against a brothel-keeper in the 1990s was abandoned because she threatened to expose Heath as a pedophile.
Earlier this week, a man came forward to claim Heath raped him when he was a 12-year-old in 1961. At the time Heath was a senior government figure handling British negotiations to join the forerunner of the EU.
As well as the five police investigations, the agency that investigates police misconduct is also examining the allegations surrounding the 1990s brothel-keeper case.
Heath, a keen yachtsman and classical musician, is the latest British politician said to committed sexual attacks on children between the 1960s and 1980s.
Former Liberal Party lawmaker Cyril Smith, who died in 2010, is acknowledged by police to have physically and sexually assaulted boys for a long time but allegations were allegedly covered up by the police, local authorities and the intelligence service. Last year it was reported that 144 victims came forward over the years.
Other politicians accused of sex offences include Kenneth Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, who is said to have been investigated for assaulting a 14-year-old boy; Greville Janner, a Labour peer whose child sex abuse case was dismissed due to his dementia; Peter Morrison, one of Thatcher’s close aides in the 1980s, who was accused of being part of a VIP pedophile ring; and Leon Brittan, a former Conservative chancellor and home secretary, who was accused after he died in January of raping boys.
In London, police are examining claims that a group of influential figures including politicians abused boys in the 1970s and 1980s. The inquiry is focusing on Dolphin House, an apartment block close to parliament that is popular with MPs.
The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, which runs a museum at Heath’s former home in Wiltshire, said it welcomed the police investigation, saying it believed “wholeheartedly” it would clear Heath’s name.
“There is an unedifying whiff of Salem about all of this,” the right-leaning Daily Telegraph wrote in an editorial that referenced the 17th century witch hunts in America. “On such flimsy evidence the reputation of one of the country’s most prominent public figures is being trashed.”