Media Report More Details from “Sources” on Edward Heath Allegations

From the website of Wiltshire Police:

Operation Conifer is a national investigation, led by Wiltshire Police on behalf of the Police Service, into allegations of non-recent child abuse made against [Former Prime Minister] Sir Edward Heath.

The Operation Conifer Summary Closure Report will be published on our website on the afternoon of Tuesday 5 October 2017.

Chief Constable Mike Veale said:… “The operational integrity of the investigation and the anonymity of the victims and witnesses who have come forward remains our priority and is of paramount importance to us. Likewise, it is equally as important for people not to speculate about the veracity of the allegations against Sir Edward Heath.

“It is for that reason that I strongly discourage any media or public speculation concerning any investigation detail and/or outcome until such time as the report is published.”

The investigation was set up after various allegations were reported in the media during 2015 (discussed here); there was a dramatic appeal for “victims” to come forward, even though Heath had died in 2005 aged 89 and any allegations would very likely refer to events that supposedly occurred decades ago. Late last year it was reported that among those who came forward was a woman who alleged that Heath had been involved in Satanic Ritual Abuse, details of which she had “recovered” during therapy.

Veale’s reference to “victims” rather than “complainants” in the statement above already implies guilt, and his caution that we should not “speculate” is difficult to take given that details about the conclusions are apparently being leaked, and a draft of the report has been provided to a sympathetic Member of Parliament, Andrew Bridgen (see below).

A few months ago, it was reported via “sources” that Veale believes the allegations are “120% true”, although he now denies having indicated this [1]; and today’s Mail on Sunday has a new article on the subject by Simon Walters, in which “Whitehall sources” leak information about the investigation outcome:

Child sexual abuse claims made against Sir Edward Heath by seven of his alleged victims are serious enough that police would have questioned him under caution if he were still alive.

That is the astonishing verdict of a controversial two-year investigation into the former Tory Prime Minister, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

According to Whitehall sources, Mr Veale’s report will say seven of the alleged victims are ‘credible’ and describe the same pattern of behaviour by their ‘abuser’.

A Government source said an ‘interview under caution’ is, in effect, the strongest action that Mr Veale could recommend with regard to Sir Edward.

After an ‘interview with caution’ police would send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would decide whether to prosecute. ‘It was never the task of Operation Conifer to decide whether Sir Edward was guilty, and clearly there was never any question of recommending prosecution in this case,’ a Government source said.

A public figure being “questioned under caution” (whether voluntarily or while under arrest) is always likely to be of journalistic interest, although it doesn’t indicate anything more than that a complaint has been made and that the police want to take formal evidence from the person accused. Police may then forward the case to the CPS, but they are not obligated to do so and one wonders how Wiltshire Police can be so sure that this would have been the appropriate course of action when they have no idea what counter-evidence Heath might have provided were he still alive. This reminds me of Sussex Police’s pointless and disturbing speculations about how it would have dealt with an allegation against Bishop George Bell, were it not the fact that that Bell has been dead for nearly 60 years (I discussed my concerns about this here).

Also, according to Walters:

Mr Veale’s report will say testimonies by around a dozen more ‘victims’ cannot be relied on because they may have been ‘damaged’ by their experiences; a further dozen involve so called ‘third party’ allegations, where people have come forward to describe the alleged abuse of others.

A number of claims have been dismissed as bogus or fantasy.

This would appear to discount the most egregious “Satanic Grocer” allegations, although it has been suggested that these were the “core strand” of the investigation. The allegations supposedly relate to a period spanning “five decades”.

The MoS article comes in the wake of a piece in the Daily Telegraph, which reported a few days ago that:

Sources have told The Telegraph that the inquiry, costing between £1.5m and £2m, has fallen far short of establishing that Heath was a paedophile but will insist the investigation was justified.

“The report will not make any conclusion on whether Heath was a paedophile,” said a well-placed source. “It is not going to show serious child abuse. It will not substantiate the claims.”

Some online conspiracy theorists have seized on this as implying that the report will show that some abuse occurred; they also complain that it is wicked to distinguish between “serious” child abuse and apparently “less serious” child-abuse offences.

The details about how Heath would have been interviewed under caution and a file then passed to the CPS also appear in an article by Mark Watts that was published on Byline and his own website yesterday, a day before the MoS article. However, the “sources” apparently went somewhat further in communication with Watts, expressing confidence about what the CPS decision would have been and what a jury would have concluded:

Officers on the investigation believe that Ted Heath would have to go on trial if he were still alive. One source said: “I have seen successful prosecutions on a lot less than Mike Veale has already got.”

…Both sources say that Veale is personally convinced, on the strength of Operation Conifer, that Heath was a paedophile.

The second source said: “The evidence speaks for itself.”

But they stress that it is not for the police to express a view on Heath’s guilt in their report.

Further, while Walters refers to “seven” credible victims, Watts has “more than 30” supposedly credible witnesses. The “sources” also apparently provided Watts with some broader commentary:

Officers on Operation Conifer see the report as a “game-changer” on the issue of “VIP paedophiles”.

…Veale believes that the investigation raises “national security” concerns – historically and currently.

Evidence that Heath was a compromised prime minister would raise obvious issues about national security.

But Veale is also concerned about those who helped cover up for him and remain vulnerable to being compromised.

Veale also believes that there has been a desperate attempt to continue the cover-up in the face of Operation Conifer, to stop his investigation and to have him sacked.

Watts is notorious for a series of sensationalising articles about alleged “VIP paedophiles” operating in Westminster – he described Operation Midland as a police investigation “the establishment fears”, although it turned out to be a fiasco [2]. The above serves several purposes: (a) to revive Watts’s own reputation; (b) to justify the great expense involved, by suggesting that the allegations have contemporary relevance [3]; and (c) to preempt criticism of Veale when the Summary Report (finally) comes out next month.

Meanwhile, a new Sunday Times article (by Jame Gillespie, Rosie Waterhouse, and Tom Harper) notes Andrew Bridgen MP’s [4] assessment:

…the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who has seen an early draft of Wiltshire police’s report on Heath, described its finding as “credible and disturbing”.

The MP for North West Leicestershire said: “I have never known any other police investigation that has got as much media attention and where such efforts have been made to discredit it before publication.

“I have utmost confidence in his [Veale’s] integrity and the professionalism of his team, and I would urge people to reserve judgment until they have read the report.

Bridgen thus passes judgement based on special access, while exhorting the public not to do likewise. And “people” will not be able to read the report – just the “Summary Closure Report” promised by the Wiltshire Police website.

The Sunday Times also notes that Veale has been in communication with conspiracy theorists:

Mike Veale… emailed Robert Green, of Warrington, two weeks ago in response to an email Green had sent him. Veale wrote: “As ever thank you Robert.”

The words suggest the pair had communicated previously and will cast fresh doubt on the evidence that Veale’s force has gathered.

…Green is an activist closely involved with fraudulence allegations in Scotland in the so-called Hollie Greig case, in which claims that a girl with Down’s syndrome had been abused were found to be false. He was jailed for 12 months in 2012 for harassment.

…Other “witnesses”… include those who believe in satanic ritual abuse, a convicted sex offender and internet conspiracy theorists – but officers have not spoken to one of Heath’s closest aides.

Background to Green and the “Hollie Greig” case was reported here; the “other witnesses” were discussed by the Sunday Times in February. And there are also concerns about who hasn’t been interviewed:

Sir Timothy Kitson, who knew Heath for 35 years and was his parliamentary private secretary during his time at No 10 from 1970-74, said he had not been questioned by the police despite being one of the people closest to him. The inquiry was “bullshit”, he said.

In contrast, a prolific internet conspiracy theorist who has named many people in public life as paedophiles without any evidence, was interviewed twice by Wiltshire officers for a total of seven hours.

UPDATE: A short follow-up in The Times again states that “an interview under caution would lead to a file being sent to the Crown Prosecution Service”, when this is not necessarily the case at all. The article also draws attention to a detail in the Daily Telegraph, which reports that “a well-placed source” has said that one accuser “faces possible charges for making false allegations” about Heath.

Footnotes

[1] Veale has told the Daily Telegraph that

“I wish to make it very clear, at no time have I confidentially or publicly, directly or indirectly stated my opinion of the guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath or any other person subject to this investigation…”

[2] Operation Midland’s “Nick” said that Heath had been present at a paedophile orgy, and had saved him from being castrated by Harvey Proctor. Ironically, however, this particular detail was not reported by Watts, and my guess is that Exaro suppressed it as being too fantastical to credit and thus likely to undermine their star accuser. Proctor himself revealed that the story had been put to him by police.

[3] Two people were arrested at one point, but released without charge. Is it likely that these were relatives of the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” accuser. Wiltshire Police announced the arrests “some time” after they had occurred, and the information was presumably released as a defence against criticism.

[4] Bridgen has no particular connection to the case: he is not a minister, and his constituency is outside Wiltshire. As such, it is puzzling why he was given access to the draft. However, he can be relied upon to provide a media quote on any subject that is put before him.

2 Responses

  1. Veale is an odd character and I have no doubt he will do anything he can to infer guilt upon Heath while attempting to be ‘impartial’ which he is anything but. His twitter feed at the time of his “120%” sure announcement which he back-peddled from was an eye-opener. He made bizarre claims and at one stage threatened me with a ‘libel’ action which was nonsense and when I encouraged him to by sending him via the message service my solicitor’s name I never heard another word. I had been trying to alert him that his twitter feed was riddled with posts by the Satanic fruitcake mob including some who had posted images and false claims about the children in the Hampstead hoax. Trying to alert his strange copper that he was allowing a breach of a High Court order to remain let alone that he was also breaching a High Court injunction- twitter posters are legally responsible for their re-tweets no matter how many times they claim it is not endorsement- was a strange affair in which he lashed out while finally realizing after 3 weeks of messages that he should remove the posts and indeed he did by removing the entire twitter feed. My feeling is Veale will pump new life into the false Heath claims for a while but he will most definitely pay a price in the long run. As he should.

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