The Daily Mirror and Edward Heath’s “1961” Rape Accuser

From the Daily Mirror, August 2015:

Sir Edward Heath child abuse claims: Alleged victim ‘was raped by ex PM when he was just 12’

The alleged victim, now 64, says the sexual assault took place in an exclusive Mayfair flat in 1961 when Heath was a Tory MP.

The Mirror can reveal for the first time specific details the alleged victim has made in statements to his legal team which are due to be passed to police.

The man, who worked as a rent boy throughout his adolescence and was in his later life convicted of child sex crimes, claims he kept his secret bottled up until this year.

…The man has told his legal team Heath also had full penetrative sex with him that night.

The Daily Mirror, October 2017:

Former Prime Minister Ted Heath’s accuser is a convicted paedophile and habitual liar

A man at the centre of child sex abuse claims against former PM Ted Heath is a convicted paedophile and habitual liar, the Mirror can reveal.

The alleged victim, in his 60s, is serving a long jail sentence over a catalogue of abuse against a teenage boy.

His claims that, aged 11, he was a victim of the Tory leader are understood to be a centrepiece of the controversial Conifer report, which cost £1.5million and took two years to compile.

The first item was written by Russell Myers, and he was the co-author of the second. The accuser is obviously the same person, notwithstanding the inconsistency over his exact age (1), and this is clearly the same “1961” accuser whose claims are among those which Wiltshire Police say they would have interviewed Heath over. As the Wiltshire Police Operation Conifer Summary Closure Report (discussed here) puts it, in tabulated form:

Offence Date Span: 1961

Date Reported: April 2015

Location of Offences: MPS [i.e. Metropolitan Police Service]

Summary of Disclosures: Sir Edward Heath allegedly raped and indecently assaulted a male, aged 11 years, during a paid sexual encounter in private in a dwelling.

Wiltshire Police say they would have interviewed Heath because there was no “undermining evidence”, even though biographical sources show that Heath did not move into his Mayfair flat until 1963 – a crucial point that Simon Jenkins drew attention to in a Guardian opinion piece two days after the first Mirror report (2).

The 2015 Mirror article failed to make clear that the accuser is currently in prison, and it is difficult to believe that the paper was unaware that he was a “habitual liar” until now. The earlier report also misrepresented the accuser’s contact with police: rather than his statements being “due to be passed to police”, the Summary Report shows that they already had been reported in April 2015. This was also made clear in a statement that was published by the Metropolitan Police following the Mirror article’s publication:

Following an article in today’s Daily Mirror, 4 August, which details an allegation of rape (“Ted Heath Scandal: Claims of sex with boy, 12”) the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has received a number of specific media enquiries about this matter.

In April 2015 an allegation of rape was made to the MPS. An officer from Operation Fairbank interviewed the complainant that same month and obtained a full account. Support services were offered. However, after a full assessment of the allegation there were no lines of enquiry that could proportionately be pursued by the MPS.

This has now been noted by the Telegraph, although there’s a misleading suggestion that the matter had been investigated and then “dropped”, rather than “assessed” but not pursued (there is a difference). The article also has some further details:

The allegation was made by a serial child sex abuser while he languished in jail on remand.

In a previous child sex abuse case, the accuser had blamed his offending on witnessing people being killed in conflict zones. He made no mention of being a victim of Heath. He has also been described as an “habitual liar”.

The element of “languishing” here is probably just a meaningless cliché, but the fact that the accuser was on remand is particularly significant, as it means that he had a motive to concoct mitigating circumstances for his behaviour ahead of a trial (3). April 2015 was before the other allegations against Heath were in the media (4), but Operation Midland and Operation Fairbank were providing newspapers and websites with a never-ending stream of sensational allegations about “VIP sex abuse”.

The Telegraph further adds:

Wiltshire Police, in the press conference on Thursday, said it wasn’t aware that any of the ‘victims’ had been interviewed in newspapers. On Friday, the force denied it had misled the press[,] because the man’s account had been outlined in prison letters.

The Mirror‘s 2015 article was published just hours after Sean Memory had stood outside Heath’s former home and appealed for “victims” to come forward. Presumably, the Mirror already had the information it needed for its story, but had previously decided it was too outlandish or distasteful to run – perhaps it had even been largely written in April and then spiked, which would explain the outdated detail about information being “due to be passed to police” when this had in fact already happened.

Memory’s announcement changed the climate, and shortly thereafter it was revealed that five police forces were investigating claims about Heath. Thus the floodgates opened. The Mirror followed up its “1961 rape” story with the completely unsubstantiated and implausible headline “‘Eleven boys went on Edward Heath’s yacht but I counted only 10 who left his boat’ claims mum” (also picked up by Mail Online), and then a with bogus piece on “Edward Heath’s secret Jersey hideaway at centre of child sex abuse probe”, which ludicrously suggested that Heath had spent six months “in the early 70s” living on Jersey and spending time in the local pub while convalescing from an operation  – somewhat difficult to envisage given that he was Prime Minister at the time.

UPDATE (14 October): The Daily Telegraph (followed by the Daily Mail) has now reported that the accuser’s own family believe that he made the whole thing up. They also say that they were never contacted by police, which is remarkable given that the 2015 Mirror report included a claim by the accuser that he had told his mother in 1965. However, this isn’t just a police dereliction: clearly, no-one one in the media sought his relatives out either. In August 2015, even the Telegraph was happy simply to re-write the Mirror rather than dig deeper.

(H/T to Bandini in the comments for the juxtaposition of the two Mirror articles)


1. The first Mirror article says he was 12 years old in August 1961, but 64 in August 2015. This is impossible – 64 years prior to 2015 takes us back to 1951. Even if we assume that he was very close to turning 65, that only takes us back to 1950. Thus he couldn’t have been 12 in 1961 – he would have been eleven at most, which is consistent with the Summary Report.

However, there is now a complication in that the Telegraph says he is now 68. I think this must be an error. If he was 64 in spring or summer 2015, then by autumn 2017 he is either 66 or 67 at most.

2. Jenkins refers to John Campbell’s biography of Heath. There is in fact one reference to Heath moving to Mayfair in 1961 (on page 72), but this is contradicted by a later reference to 1963 (on page 136). The second date is to be preferred, because it is consistent with other sources, including Margaret Laing’s 1973 biography and Heath’s own autobiography  – referring to the resignation of Macmillan in October 1963, Heath wrote: “It was at this time that I moved out of the small flat in Petty France that I had inhabited since the early 1950s”. This “small flat” could not have been mistaken by a visitor for his later residence, which was on a much larger scale.

Further, Heath adds that he had been on the waiting list for Albany for 13 years, and that he was able to move in following the death of the writer Clifford Bax. Bax died in November 1962; presumably there would have been a transitional period of some months before the flat would have been ready for a new occupant (h/t to a reader for that detail).

3. It is worth noting that the Telegraph‘s details about the accuser’s character and possible motive for lying would not have been taken into account by Operation Conifer – the Summary Report makes it very clear that “undermining evidence” refers specifically to contradictions and physical impossibilities rather than contexts that undermine credibility in a general way.

4. Heath was however accused of Satanism in 1998 in a book by David Icke, although his account included the supernatural element of Heath turning into a giant reptile. Then, in early 2013, the conspiracy theorist Michael Shrimpton claimed in a radio interview that Heath would murder children and have them thrown over the side of his yacht.