The Daily Telegraph

Ted Heath ‘owed inquiry’ into witch hunt

- By Patrick Sawer and Robert Mendick

THE official historian of the Conservati­ve Party has called for an independen­t investigat­ion into the police’s disastrous handling of false child sex abuse claims against Sir Edward Heath.

Lord Lexden said there was an “overwhelmi­ng and unanswerab­le” case for a review of Wiltshire police’s £1.5million investigat­ion into the former prime minister after its ex-chief constable was barred for life from policing.

Mike Veale, former chief constable of Wiltshire police, who presided over the investigat­ion into uncorrobor­ated claims that Heath raped and indecently assaulted boys, was found guilty of gross misconduct and barred from policing for life in July after a disciplina­ry panel found he had made inappropri­ate sexual comments to colleagues.

The Conservati­ve peer said: “We owe it to the memory of a dead statesman, the only first minister of the Crown ever to be suspected of such serious criminal offences, to get at the truth of this grave matter and settle the doubts created by the disgraced Veale.”

Wiltshire’s Operation Conifer saw one of Veale’s senior officers make an unpreceden­ted public appeal outside Heath’s house in Salisbury, but detectives failed to interview potential key witnesses during the inquiry.

The main complainan­t against Heath was a fantastist and convicted paedophile who claimed that the ex-pm had abducted and raped him after picking him up while he was hitchhikin­g on the A2 in Kent in 1961, when he was 11.

But a Telegraph investigat­ion showed the man, now aged 73, had a string of conviction­s for child sex abuse dating back almost 50 years.

Three siblings contacted by this newspaper had no recollecti­on of their brother being abducted and raped by Heath, as he claimed.

Heath died in 2005 and could not defend his reputation.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Lexden said: “The outcome of the disciplina­ry case, brought following an investigat­ion by the Independen­t Office for Police Conduct, should be followed by renewed scrutiny of [Veale’s] handling of the allegation­s against the former prime minister.”

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