Expert: Satanic Ritual Abuse Claims are the “Core Strand” of Wiltshire Police Investigation into Edward Heath

Friday’s Today programme on BBC Radio 4 included a segment on Wiltshire Police’s sex abuse investigation into the former Prime Minister Edward Heath, focusing on Richard Hoskins, a criminologist who (as Rachel Hoskins) went public in November with concerns about how the probe was being conducted. A number of allegations against Heath, who died in 2005, appeared in tabloid newspapers in 2015, as I discussed here; Hoskins revealed that the investigation also included a remarkable claim of Satanic Ritual Abuse, involving not just child abuse but also murder.

The interview clarifies that, according to Hoskins, the SRA claims are the “core strand” of the investigation, rather than just being an outlier. Hoskins was asked onto the programme after it was announced that two people who had been arrested in relation to the inquiry have now been released from bail without charge. The arrests had been announced in November following criticism of the investigation, although they are believed to have occurred some weeks beforehand.

Details of the arrests are scarce, although it has been reported (a) that they “related to child protection and not perverting the course of justice”; and (b) that the two individuals “did not know Sir Edward and had never met or worked with him or in politics”. The Sun refers specifically to “two men”, although that may just be an assumption.  In my opinion, it is very likely that the two arrests relate to the SRA allegations, first made against them by a family member some years ago and now resurrected in the context of the investigation into Heath (as discussed by me here).

A full transcript of the interview is given below, with some annotations. The audio begins at 2 hours 33 minutes into the programme, and the interviewer was Mishal Husain. I’ve highlighted the “core strand” comment.

Transcript

I’ve investigated something like nearly 200 criminal investigations over the last 15 years, and so I’ve developed an expertise in the area of ritual crime [1]. So, I’m well-known for working in this area. And Wiltshire Police found that they thought there were elements of ritualistic crime within this enquiry.

And what did you find when you started looking into the evidence available?

Well, I was presented with two large dossiers, one on the Wiltshire Police investigation and another on the historic Westminster VIP paedophile enquiry. The reason that I had both dossiers is because there were overlaps and people named in one enquiry were named in another. And as I looked into it, I found a series of very questionable evidence, and so I began to probe into that. I approached the whole thing with an open mind, as I always do, but I began to find that the evidence didn’t look strong to me.

Why not?

Well, there were issues here about how the evidence had come to light in the first place, and as with the Westminster VIP paedophile enquiry, where we know it all went back to one sole source, Nick [2], there was an issue here about the way that the evidence in the Wiltshire enquiry went back to, effectively a sole source who had recovered memories from the 1980s [3]. So, this immediately led to me making comparisons, valid comparisons with the 1980s Satanic Ritual Abuse panic.

Just explain what recovered memories are.

OK, well this is where people who have gone through trauma regain memory that they have blocked out. And that’s a genuine thing, it does happen. The trouble is the role of some psychotherapists, and we have to say “some” here, especially under hypnosis, as happened in this case, leads to questions when we’re dealing with criminal cases.

And you thought that that meant this was not credible, the evidence before you.

I am certain that the evidence was not credible, with which I was presented, because there were serious question marks – which I can’t go into all the details here, because some parts of the report remain confidential – but there were serious question marks about the way the memories were recovered.

But in itself the evidence was fantastical. We were… I counted I think 21 murders apparently that had taken place, some of which involved Edward Heath in broad daylight in English churchyards, on English church altars. There were sensational accounts of ritual orgies and drinking blood and suchlike, and I do think that just as which happened with Nick on the Westminster enquiry, had people just taken a step back and said “hang on a second, is this really likely?”. they might have stopped and paused the investigation at that point.

And you told Wiltshire Police this?

I did. I produced a 160-page report after two months of very solid work. As I always do I approached the case with a very open mind, I tackled all the evidence, but my conclusions were pretty damning. And that did not go down well with Wiltshire Police.

What did they say?

Well, the response initially, and this was after I’ve produced something like 200 case reports over 15 years, was something I’ve never encountered before, which was that I apparently was questioning the credibility of witnesses. Well, yes, I was, effectively. But of course that was never my aim. I mean, I myself am a victim of historic sexual abuse, so I – and someone got about 10 years for it – so I have no axe to grind at all, quite the opposite. But we’re dealing here with evidence, and if the evidence looks sketchy then we have to ask the questions. And I did.

Wiltshire Police were uncomfortable with that, they did not take my recommendations forward, which were to submit the report – I was not asking to go public, I suggested the report should go to the Chair of the Historic Abuse Inquiry, the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Chair of the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner. These were not outlandish recommendations at all. I felt that those stakeholders in the public interest must know about this.

And the police say that what they put before you, the evidence which you decided was not credible was only a small part of what they had.

Well, I’m afraid that Wiltshire Police are wriggling at every single turn here, and, whenever one part of their investigation falls down, this is their fallback, they’re saying “no, but there’s another strand”. So now we have a situation where two witnesses have been cleared, and again they are going to say, “well, but that was only one strand”. The fact is, and I had this briefing with the police before we started, I was briefed on all the different strands of the investigation. This was the core strand that they wanted to use to prove Ted Heath’s guilt.

But it’s not impossible that there are other strands, and they are, as recently as yesterday, sticking to the fact that they believe all of this is worth investigating. They say this remains a live and ongoing investigation with a significant number of allegations made by a number of separate individuals.

Well, the police have been on a fishing trip with this. They – I think, outrageously-  stood outside Ted Heath’s house and called, basically, for people to come forward. Now, of course there’s a balance here. We know that with historic cases we do need to get people to come forward if there’s a genuine case of abuse. But they have been on a fishing trip, some of it has clearly been quite absurd. And the investigation so far, has cost, up to the end of last month, of £1, 142,000. This is not, I think, for the police to decide now, whether this goes forward. I think in the public interest somebody has got to say “it’s time to call a halt to this”. There’s no credible evidence, nothing has stuck on Ted Heath, and that was the point of this investigation.

They’ve had two years, which is not as long as other investigations have been given.

It’s still a hell of a long time, with 21 officers involved working on a case in which they have so far not found one single scrap of hard evidence.

Why did you go public with all of this? Because by doing so you went against the agreement that you signed, and you won’t be able to do future work like this for police forces.

Well, that’s a decision that I myself have taken. In fact, individual police forces are still approaching me, because they seem to appreciate the work I’ve done previously. But as a member of the National …

Have you not been removed from the National Crime Agency list of approved experts?

No, I took myself off the National Crime Agency database of experts. It was my decision, because I was so appalled, frankly, by the response of Wiltshire Police, to a report that was a serious piece of academic research. I was not asking to go public, I was asking it should go to the various agencies, who deserve to see this information. In fact, the Historical Abuse Enquiry have called for my report, and they have now received it.

You’re very convinced that there is nothing to be found in relation to these allegations. How can you be so sure that there aren’t people out there who need to be brought to justice for something that happened?

Well, there is a balance here, and obviously we don’t want to go back to the situation with Jimmy Savile, where things were covered up. But I think, there is a balance, and if after two years of investigating, nothing solid has been found, and my understanding is that there is nothing solid on Ted Heath, then, for the sake of his reputation – and  don’t forget, other people have been besmirched in this process, like Lord Brittan, who went to the grave never knowing his name was cleared [4] – and with the extent of public money being spent, then someone has to draw a line. Now, of course, if there are genuine strands, and there are real people who have been through the trauma of abuse, which I know all about, then that must of course be investigated. But this is totally disproportionate. That’s the problem here.

Notes

[1] Most famously, Hoskins was involved in the 2001 “torso in the Thames” investigation. Hoskins has also highlighted the issue of the abuse of African children accused of witchcraft, as I discussed here.

[2] This is a reference to the Operation Midland fiasco, discussed in further detail here. As I mentioned just yesterday, there are a number of child sex abuse activists who can be described as “Operation Midland Truthers”, who continue to assert their confidence in the accuser known in the media as “Nick”. Some of these activists/vigilantes have expressed contemptuous views about Hoskins, making mocking references to his apparently temporary transgender status as Rachel Hoskins and nasty insinuations about past family bereavements.

[3] Details about the therapy that the Heath SRA accuser underwent some years ago appeared in the Toronto National Post in January, and were discussed in further detail by me here.

[4] I discussed the investigations into Leon Brittan here.