Ex-PM Edward Heath child sex abuse claims to be investigated despite cost concerns

Edward Heath. © Stringer
Police have announced they will continue to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by late Prime Minister Edward Heath, despite MPs raising concerns about the cost of the inquiry.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Mike Veile confirmed the investigation is ongoing and said he is content with the scope of the inquiry.

In a separate revelation, the police watchdog has found no evidence Wiltshire cops covered up alleged abuse by Heath in the 1990s.

In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), Veile said the investigation’s priority is to identify and safeguard children and vulnerable adults who may still be at risk.

The chief constable said 16 officers are involved in the investigation, along with support with other forces, adding that external experts had been convened to scrutinize the investigation.

He could not say when it will be completed.

Doing the right thing is more important than the reputation of Wiltshire Police, and at this stage I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the investigation to continue,” Veile said.

Keith Vaz MP, who is chair of HASC, said “concerns had been expressed” about the reasoning behind the investigation and its cost.

The inquiry, dubbed Operation Conifer, has so far cost £368,000 (US$534,000).

The investigation comes in response to at least seven allegations of child sex abuse brought against Heath, including one claim the former Tory PM abused a boy on his yacht before throwing him overboard.

It was prompted by a retired police officer’s claim last year that abuse allegations against Heath were covered up in the 1990s.

A retired senior ranking police officer revealed that a case involving a brothel owner had been dropped when she said she would expose Heath.

Heath was also examined in the now defunct Operation Midland, an investigation into a suspected VIP pedophile ring at the heart of Westminster.

Friends and colleagues of the late politician have defended his reputation.