Edward Heath: Allegations of historic sexual abuse

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Police would have had sufficient grounds to question Sir Edward Heath over allegations he raped and indecently assaulted boys were he alive today, an investigation has found.

The report says: "Further to a proportionate investigation, reasonable grounds exist that, if Sir Edward Heath had been alive today, he would have been interviewed under caution regarding his suspected involvement in an offence".

The most notable included a woman referred to as Lucy X, who had previously made claims of satanic abuse in Tidworth in 1989 which were later dismissed as "nonsense". There are no claims of offenses carried out during his time as prime minister between 1970 and 1974.

He never forgave Margaret Thatcher for ousting him as Tory leader in 1975, for years nursing a grudge which became known as the "incredible sulk".

But a probe launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the alleged historical corruption found no evidence that the retired officer's claims were true.

Claim: Heath allegedly indecently assaulted a 15-year-old boy during a chance encounter in a public building.

One of the people was cautioned by officers while another is now being investigated.

When sexual consent for a paid sexual act was withdrawn in a hotel in Wiltshire, Sir Edward Heath indecently assaulted an adult man around 1992.

He died on July 17, 2005 aged 89 after suffering from a pulmonary embolism a few years before.

"My suspicion is that we will learn nothing from the report except innuendo and that really takes nobody any further forward, except it leaves a dark stain over a man who can't defend himself", he said earlier this week.

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Wiltshire chief constable Mike Veale said in a press conference on Thursday: "We have gone where the evidence has taken us whether it supported or negated the allegations".

"During a period of two years, Operation Conifer received 42 disclosures relating to 40 separate individuals", said a force spokesman.

Between 1990 and 1992: Heath also allegedly indecently assaulted a boy aged between 12 and 14 between 1990 and 1992 in a garden in Wiltshire, though the report warns tehre is undermining evidence for this offence that they would have nevertheless liked to have questioned him on.

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath and West German opera singer Anneliese Rothenberger pose sitting at a piano during an interval in shooting for a Television show in Hamburg, West Germany on May 17, 1977.

Heath's reputation should not be left in limbo, his former colleagues said.

But the decision to investigate had been "the right moral thing, ethical thing and professional thing to do", he said.

The announcement by Wiltshire police was immediately criticised by Heath's family and supporters, who accused the force of "covering their backs at the expense of a dead man".

The police do not and can not make a conclusion that Sir Edward is guilty or innocent, Mr. Watts explained, but if they had have been able to interview him, then they would decide whether to pass the case on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Veale denied the investigation into Heath was a "fishing expedition" or "witch hunt" and vowed not to bow to "unacceptable" media pressure.

"Edward Heath was an extremely prominent and influential person, one of the most powerful people in the world". That will go to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse set up by the government.

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