A British police force under investigation over child sex abuse claims against a former prime minister says it welcomes the inquiry.
SALISBURY, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 3, 2015) – Britain’s police watchdog said on Monday (August 3) it will investigate allegations that detectives failed to pursue a complaint of child sexual abuse made against former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath in the 1990s.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said the claim of child sexual abuse had been made to Wiltshire Police in southwest England, where Heath lived for much of his life. It gave no details of the alleged abuse nor of the complainant.
Wiltshire Police Superintendent, Sean Memory, said a phone line had been set up to receive calls from the public on the case.
“This allegation was brought to us earlier on this year. We’ve worked tirelessly to try and establish whether there’s any foundation to it. We’ve then referred it to the IPCC and they’ve decided to announce it today. We’re fully behind that decision. But again, as I stress, this is about pulling forward witnesses and victims – have some trust in Wiltshire police that we’ll deal with it effectively with absolute privacy for those that come forward. But I would urge those people that have information or that have been victims of crime to come forward to us today,” he said.
The IPCC will also examine whether Wiltshire Police subsequently took any steps to investigate the claims.
Wiltshire Police said it was carrying out enquiries to identify if there are any witnesses or victims who support the allegations of child sex abuse.
Wilf Weeks of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said he had worked with Heath from 1976 to 1980, and that he was a “fantastic” man to work for.
“We, the trustees, welcome the investigation by the Wiltshire Police and we wholeheartedly hope that this will, or believe that this will, clear Sir Edward’s name. And we will fully cooperate with the police enquiries,” Weeks said.
Heath was prime minister between 1970 and 1974 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975 when he lost the leadership to Margaret Thatcher.
He shepherded Britain into Europe as prime minister but he will also be remembered for long years in the political wilderness, often bitterly critical of Thatcher.
He died in 2005 at the age of 89.