A former UK Prime Minister is being investigated by four British police forces as part of an unprecedented inquiry into allegations of historical child abuse that reached to the very top of the country’s elite.
The late Sir Edward Heath, who died in 2005, aged 89, is now the most prominent name to feature as part of a series of mammoth investigations into whether police and other authorities covered up horrific levels of sexual abuse by people of influence over several decades in the UK.
A dam of official silence around the allegations began to break after the 2011 death of TV entertainer Jimmy Savile, when dozens came forward to say he had abused them. Subsequent revelations have implicated other entertainers, as well as clergy and other senior politicians.
The claims made against Heath, who was prime minister between 1970 and 1974, are now being investigated by the London Metropolitan, Wiltshire, Kent, and Jersey Police forces.
In the latest revelation, Kent Police revealed on Tuesday afternoon it had received a report of a sexual assault having been committed in east Kent in the 1960s. A spokesman told Kent Online that the victim has named Heath in connection with the allegation and is now being investigated as part of Operation Hydrant.
Allegations are also being examined by Scotland Yard as part of Operation Midland, which was set up to examine claims of coordinated murder and abuse by a Westminster pedophile ring.
Indicating the scale of the inquiry, police examining the systematic abuse of children at Jersey care homes in the UK Channel Islands confirmed Tuesday that Heath is also named in its separate investigation — Operation Whistle — along with 13 other “people of public prominence.”
Heath is said to have “frequently” been to a children’s home, Haut de la Garenne, which was visited by Savile.
Allegations against Heath were first disclosed on Monday after the UK’s police watchdog also revealed it is investigating whether Wiltshire Police failed to pursue an allegation of child sexual abuse made against him in the 1990s.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it had received an allegation from a retired officer that a criminal prosecution was abandoned when a person threatened to expose Heath for allegedly being involved in offenses concerning children.
The Guardian reported that the suspect was said to be a woman in charge of a brothel, whose prosecution was abandoned after she threatened to expose Heath.
Wiltshire Police issued an appeal for victims to come forward on Monday. A number of calls have reportedly already been made after officers set up an inquiry line to find witnesses who an support the allegations.
In a further sensational turn, British newspaper the Mirror then reported a claim by an unnamed man who claims he was raped at the age of 12 by Heath.
The alleged victim, now 64, says the sexual assault took place in an exclusive Mayfair flat in 1961 when Heath was a Tory MP.
Detectives from Scotland Yard’s sexual exploitation unit have been informed of the claims from the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and plan to interview him, theMirror reported.
Supporters of Heath have already fiercely dismissed the claims saying there is “not a shred of evidence to link him to abuse,” according to the BBC.