Former PM 'would have been interviewed under caution'

Police investigated sex abuse claims against Edward Heath made by dead people

The alleged assaults are said to have taken place in various areas of the South of England between 1961 and 1992.

In 2015 The Daily Mirror reported that a man claimed he had been raped by Heath when he was 12-years-old.

Police looked at 42 allegations and said there was sufficient suspicion to have questioned Heath about seven of them.

One of the people was cautioned by officers while another is now being investigated.

The veteran politician was Tory leader and prime minister in the seventies, and died in 2005, aged 89.

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".

Referring to previous media coverage, in which he was said to have believed the claims against Heath, he said it was not the role of the police to decide guilt, but to investigate evidence.

He was, however, "satisfied there are compelling and obvious reasons to investigate allegations made against Sir Edward Heath".

It said Sir Edward's public position meant "it was entirely warranted to consider the disclosures that were made" and deemed it a "unique event in British policing", adding: "We wish to commend Wiltshire Police for conducting a thorough, but proportionate investigation".

'In the meantime, a fundamental, time-honoured principle should be respected, namely that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty.

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He had entered Parliament in 1950, as the MP for Bexley, and served in successive Conservative Governments until 1964.

"They deserve to know they are being listened to and the police support them - and their anonymity will be upheld".

"(He) was an extremely prominent, influential and high-profile person, arguably one of the most powerful people in the world", he said.

Former UK Cabinet Secretary Lord Armstrong and Lord Hunt of Wirral, chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said in a joint statement that the allegations were groundless.

The investigation centred on the claims of one individual, known only as "Nick", and related to a 10-year period in the 1970s and 1980s. "Heath's own evidence would have been essential to a fair process".

A Wiltshire Police investigation, called Operation Conifer, concluded that seven of the claims would have been sufficiently credible to justify questioning Sir Edward (above), who was prime minister between 1970 and 1974, under caution.

Claim: Heath allegedly raped and indecently assaulted a boy, 11, during a paid sexual encounter.

The next assault allegedly occurred while Heath was the leader of the opposition in 1967. The allegations of rape and indecent assault involve five boys under the age of consent, ranging from 10-years-old to 15, and two adult males.

The nature of these crimes, let's call them alleged crimes, is such that numerous victims of these kinds of crimes find it extremely hard to come forward for a whole range of reasons, and it's not in the least unusual that once somebody has passed away that the victims feel free, able and safe to actually come forward and to speak about what happened in the past.

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