From James Gillespie at the Sunday Times:
A convicted hoaxer, a Twitter “fantasist” and a sex offender are among the people believed to have been interviewed by Wiltshire police in their investigation into claims that the former Conservative prime minister Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile.
The evidence so far from 30 people who are said to have come forward with claims of sexual abuse by Heath has reportedly been described by Mike Veale, the chief constable, as “120%” genuine.
However, an investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed that some of the people who have been questioned by officers — not all of whom claim to be victims — have previously made public claims that turned out to be false,
This comes a week after the Mail on Sunday ran a front-page splash with the headline “Police Chief: Heath Was A Paedophile”, which I discussed here. Veale responded to the MoS article by issuing a statement in which he lamented “unhelpful speculation” and confirmed that “it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our criminal justice system.” Of course, he was unable to say anything about the alleged leak itself, and he refused to be drawn when I asked him via Twitter whether he could give an assurance that he had never leaked his opinion about any ongoing case to the media. The journalist David Aaronovitch has taken the view that the article “amounts to the Chief Constable briefing through a friend without providing any evidence”, although Paul Goodman has posted alternative suggestion at Conservative Home:
The Mail’s story looks consistent with senior police officers – not necessarily from Wiltshire, and certainly not the Chief Constable – feeling that they need to justify an investigation that began in the summer of 2015, but which has not yet produced any charges.
The story was was a sensation, and it was received with glee by “VIP CSA” conspiracy theorists and accusers – particularly since it had been revealed in November that some allegations about Heath relate to Satanic Ritual Abuse. As Matthew Scott noted, in an excoriating blog post:
Former BBC sports reporter and one-time Green Party leader David Icke crowed particularly loud. He had, he pointed out, said that Heath was a paedophile Satanist who sacrificed children in his book The Biggest Secret which was published in 1998 (not available from good book sellers, but very much available on his website, or Amazon). On Monday night he took to the airwaves again through his associated internet radio station – The Richie Allen show – to remind us that the former Prime Minister was not just a paedophile but a “monumental serial Satanist responsible for the death and torture of extraordinary numbers of children.”
Allen (previously discussed by me here) also interviewed Esther Baker, who has made other VIP claims of her own that are currently under police investigation. The interview has been uploaded to Youtube with the official title “Abuse Survivor Esther Baker: ‘The Police Talking About Ted Heath’s Crimes Gives Me Hope For Justice.'”.
The story has also made its way to the USA, via a derivative version of the MoS article on Heat Street. Alex Jones referred to this at the start of a video in which he claimed (based on “British sources”) that Heath’s “officers” would bring a young girl into his presence, whose throat would be slit in front of him while he “pleasured himself”. Perhaps inevitably, these girls were supposedly procured by Jimmy Savile (or someone named “Jimmy Sav-ELLE”, according to Jones’s pronunciation).
The police investigation into Heath has involved contacting many people – including the former editor of Private Eye magazine, which revelled in homophobic innuendo against Heath during the 1970s. As the Mail on Sunday noted last month:
Unmarried Heath had been jokingly dubbed ‘Sailor Ted’ in a reference to rumours that he was gay.
‘The policeman said he wanted to know whether I had any information on Mr Heath,’ said Mr Ingrams.
‘I said, “You’re talking about jokes.” They’d obviously looked through old copies of the Eye to some extent. There were plenty of “Hello, Sailor” type of jokes.’
He added: ‘I told the policeman there was a general subject of speculation about whether the Grocer [Private Eye’s nickname for Heath] was gay or not. He had a dislike of women. He was very rude if he was sat next to women at lunch parties, just ignoring them completely.
‘It did all look like he was gay. But I never heard any evidence of paedophile rumours. It’s a waste of time and public money.’
The “convicted hoaxer” now referenced by the Sunday Times is none other than Michael Shrimpton, who believes that Heath was provided with boys to abuse and murder by German intelligence (a subject with which Shrimpton is obsessed). The “sex offender”, meanwhile, is the “1961 accuser”, whom I discussed when he went public in 2015. His story refers to a property that Heath only occupied from a later date, and the Sunday Times notes the further detail that he supposedly recognised Heath from a 1965 newspaper caption that also mentioned “Margaret Roberts” – even though she had been “Margaret Thatcher” for 14 years (although Gillespie fails to note that the photo printed in 1965 was an old one, from 1951, so “Roberts” might have been appropriate in the caption).
The alleged “Twitter fantasist”, meanwhile, came to the Sunday Times‘s attention because he had approached Veale publicly on Twitter. According to Gillespie:
He said that his accusations were based on his own experiences and those of others who confided in him. The man is well known among paedophile conspiracy theorists on the internet and has been accused of being a fantasist. “I’m no fantasist,” he insisted. “I don’t lie, I don’t make up stories. I know what I witnessed.”
The man offers no evidence for his claims. On Twitter, he has claimed that Margaret Thatcher’s entire government knew that Heath was an abuser but held back from exposing him so it could blackmail him into obeying its orders.
On Twitter, his response to this write up has been aggrieved.
This is a story that will run and run – Wiltshire Police intend to publish a report in June (which even then may be heavily redacted). It currently feels a long way off.