UK

Sir Edward Heath, Ex-Prime Minister, 'Raped Boy Aged 12' In Latest Westminster Child Abuse Claim

04/08/2015 08:20 BST | Updated 04/08/2015 13:59 BST

A man has claimed he was raped by Sir Edward "Ted" Heath aged 12, after it was revealed police are investigating decades-old abuse claims about the ex-prime minister.

An inquiry has been launched into the alleged cover-up of child sex allegations, amid claims that a prosecution was abandoned after a threat to "expose" the Conservative politician was made.

Heath, who was prime minister from 1970 to 1974, is the highest-profile figure to be embroiled in historic abuse allegations against prominent Westminster figures.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking into whether Wiltshire Police followed up a claim against Sir Edward, which was made in the 1990s.

Labour MP Tom Watson, fighting to become his party's deputy leader, has claimed he also received information regarding abuse claims against Heath, and passed details to the police.

“I received information in 2012 concerning allegations of child abuse carried out by Edward Heath and a separate claim concerning Heath was made to me subsequently," The Telegraph reported.

“I passed them both to the police, who have confirmed to me that at least one of those allegations is being investigated and taken seriously.”

ted heath

Ted Heath in 1964

Tuesday's abuse claim, reported in The Mirror, comes from a man in his 60s, who claims he reported being sexually assaulted aged 12 in 1961 by Heath - before he became Tory leader - but was branded "a liar and a fantasist".

The man claimed Sir Edward picked him up along the A2 road in north Kent as he hitched a lift.

He alleged he went gone back to a flat in London's Park Lane where he was raped.

SEE ALSO

TOM WATSON: We Need to Ensure the State Never Allows the Powerful to Evade Justice Again

Tom Watson Calls For New Police Paedophile Unit And Justice For Survivors

It was not until 1965 that he realised who his abuser was, recognising him from a picture in a newspaper in which Sir Edward was standing beside Margaret Thatcher.

In statements to his legal team the alleged victim said: "I learned that he was MP for Bexley. This answered a lot of questions as to why no-one believed me about the London saga. I got called a liar and a fantasist."

The man worked as a rent boy throughout his teenage years and was later convicted of child sex crimes.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson declined to comment on his claims.

sir edward heath

Sir Edward pictured making a personal statement to the House of Commons

Friends of Heath have for years insisted that he was celibate and pointed out that he had police protection 24 hours a day since his election as Tory party leader in 1965 - four years after the abuse is alleged to have happened.

"His private life was controlled," Brian Binley, a former colleague of Sir Edward said.

"He didn't have a great coterie of friends. We know that he had a girlfriend who left him and that hurt him very much."

Wiltshire Police have appealed for potential victims of Heath to come forward, after launching an inquiry on the back of allegations made by a retired senior officer.

Supt Sean Memory said: "The allegation is that a trial was due to take place in the 1990s and information was received in that trial that Sir Ted Heath was involved in the abuse of children and the allegation is from the result of that information that the trial never took place.

"A retired senior police officer has come forward towards the end of 2014 indicating that they were aware of this information.

"This is an appeal for victims in particular. If you have been the victim of any crime from Sir Ted Heath or any historical sexual offence, or you are a witness or you have any information about this, then please come forward."

The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said: "We welcome the investigation by Wiltshire Police, which we wholeheartedly believe will clear Sir Edward's name and we will co-operate fully with the police in their inquiries."

Wiltshire Police said Sir Edward "lived in Salisbury for many years".

It said: "We would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our inquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim."

An IPCC spokesman said it will investigate allegations concerning the force's handling of an "alleged claim of child sexual abuse made in the 1990s".

He added: "It is alleged that a criminal prosecution was not pursued when a person threatened to expose that Sir Edward Heath may have been involved in offences concerning children.

"In addition to this allegation, the IPCC will examine whether Wiltshire Police subsequently took any steps to investigate these claims."

Sir Edward never married and was famously reticent about his private life.

One biographer concluded that he may have been a latent or repressed homosexual while another thought he was "pretty well sexless".

Away from politics he was noted for his enthusiasm for sailing and classical music.

Sir Edward died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.

READ MORE: