Westminster un­der sus­pi­cion as ex-PM faces child abuse claim


Al­le­ga­tions link­ing for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ed­ward Heath to child sex abuse threat­ened fresh dis­grace for the UK’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment Tues­day as claims of high- level his­toric pe­dophilia pile up.

Heath led the UK for four years be­tween 1970 and 1974, tak­ing it into the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity ( later known as the Euro­pean Union) in 1973, and was known as a dour bach­e­lor who loved sail­ing and clas­si­cal mu­sic. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

Now he has be­come the most se­nior fig­ure to join the ranks of prom­i­nent Westminster politi­cians ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing chil­dren, many of them posthu­mously.

The story comes as the UK en­ters a cru­cial stage in its ef­forts to in­ves­ti­gate claims that peo­ple in so­cial elites re­peat­edly car­ried out and con­cealed child sex abuse in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tury.

“I’m in ab­so­lutely no doubt that there were a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of politi­cians and many oth­ers in high so­ci­ety ... who were com­mit­ting child sex­ual abuse and prob­a­bly con­tinue to do so,” Si­mon Danczuk, an MP with the main op­po­si­tion Labour Party and a lead­ing cam­paigner on the is­sue, told Sky News tele­vi­sion.

Whether Heath was among them is now the sub­ject of fierce

de­bate in the United King­dom.

Other Politi­cians Sus­pected

Heath was drawn into the scan­dal af­ter po­lice watchdog the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Com­plaints Com­mis­sion said Mon­day it would in­ves­ti­gate a re­tired po­lice­man’s claim that a pros­e­cu­tion was dropped in the 1990s when the ac­cused threat­ened to ex­pose the ex- premier.

The Daily Mir­ror news­pa­per on Tues­day car­ried a claim from a man al­leg­ing he was raped by Heath in 1961, aged 12.

The BBC also re­ported that Heath was now be­ing di­rectly in­ves­ti­gated by Scot­land Yard over child sex abuse claims.

Heath, who led Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron’s Con­ser­va­tive Party, is not the first politi­cian ac­cused of abuse.

Oth­ers in­clude the late Leon Brit­tan, home sec­re­tary un­der Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher, and then a Euro­pean com­mis­sioner; Cyril Smith, a Lib­eral MP who died in 2010; and Gre­ville Janner, an exLabour MP and mem­ber of the House of Lords.

Last month, it emerged that in 1986, the MI5 in­tel­li­gence ser­vice had urged a cover- up of claims that an uniden­ti­fied MP “has a pen­chant for small boys.”

There are sug­ges­tions that chil­dren were abused at Lon­don’s ex­clu­sive Dol­phin Square apart­ment com­plex near par­lia­ment, pop­u­lar with MPs.

And po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions that abusers, among them politi­cians, fre­quented the Elm Guest House in south­west Lon­don in the 1970s and 1980s.

Politi­cians make up just one el­e­ment of the over­all pic­ture.

A vast judge-led in­quiry was opened last month into child sex­ual abuse at a string of Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tions from par­lia­ment to the BBC, chil­dren’s homes to churches.

It cited es­ti­mates that around one Bri­tish child in ev­ery 20 has been sex­u­ally abused.

The num­ber of abuse al­le­ga­tions be­ing made has surged since one of the BBC’s top pre­sen­ters, Jimmy Sav­ile, was ex­posed as a pe­dophile af­ter his 2011 death.

Friends of Heath have leapt to his de­fense.

Brian Bin­ley, a for­mer Con­ser­va­tive MP, told BBC ra­dio he found the al­le­ga­tions hard to be­lieve, de­scrib­ing Heath as “a very pri­vate per­son” with a “very con­trolled” per­sonal life.

“Peo­ple say there’s no smoke with­out fire — well, there is some­times smoke with­out fire, as we all know,” Bin­ley said.

Robert Vaudry, Heath’s for­mer pri­vate sec­re­tary, told The Times news­pa­per that when he worked for him from 1988 to 1992, he had a con­stant po­lice ac­com­pa­ni­ment, as do all for­mer pre­miers.

“It feels like a cheap shot and the fact is that he can­not de­fend him­self be­cause he is de­ceased,” Vaudry added.

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