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Jon Wedger Finds another Edward Heath Accuser

At the start of the month, self-described “police whistleblower” Jon Wedger announced a new allegation against former Prime Minister Ted Heath:

We are going live this morning. With former BBC ITV reporter @BreesAnna interviewing a man claiming to have been sexually abused by Former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, and launching his book

The accuser in this instance is one Michael Tarraga (var. Mike Tarraga), who says that he was brought to Heath while he was a child in care. According to his account, as given in an interview with Brees:

Uncle Teddy was a sailor. A politician sailor. I didn’t know anything about him. I was taken one afternoon [from school]… to a place called Pin Mill, which was a little sailing place in Suffolk I think it was, or Essex. And [I] went there, and there was a silver-haired man, a portly chap, and another chap who I was told was a doctor. And I was with another boy, we were told to swim naked, which we did, or in our underwear, which we did also, and spent an interesting afternoon in a foc’sle cabin with who I discovered was called Ted Heath, who was a very prominent sailor. That’s all I knew. I knew nothing else. And it clocked years later, “this Prime Minister played with me”. That’s what I thought. I thought no-one, nobody in their right senses is going to believe me. And I was right. Nobody did believe me.

In another video, Brees explains that this was in 1962, when Tarraga was 13 years old.

Tarraga has had a difficult life, which he has written about in a 2017 self-published memoir titled The Successful Failure: The Life of an Uncouth Lout. However, under the guidance of Wedger and Brees, the book has now been re-published as Meat Rack Boy, in reference to the notorious rent-boy scene that used to exist in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus in central London. This new edition includes the Heath story: as Brees says, “what we’ve done with the book is put a little bit more detail in […]. We’ve also talked about the incident with Edward Heath”.

Wedger previously interviewed Tarraga last month, and according to Brees Heath’s name came up afterwards: “It was Jon Wedger was talking to you after, you know, off-camera, and you just said ‘yeah, I saw him. He was called Uncle Teddy'”. In other words, Heath’s name only came up because Wedger mentioned him first – and Tarraga would have known what Wedger wanted to hear. The name “Uncle Teddy” is reminiscent of “Uncle Eddie”, which was the name provided by another Heath accuser, James Reeves – whom Wedger interviewed last September. Like Tarraga, Reeves was also raised and abused in care during the 1950s and 1960s, but details in his “VIP” allegations against Heath and others are contradicted by the historical record.

As with Reeves, Tarraga’s story about Heath is impossible. I have no idea what happened to him at Pin Mill, but Heath’s involvement can be ruled out. First, Heath did not take up sailing until 1966, and it took a bit of time after that before he became a “prominent” sailor. John Campbell’s biography of Heath makes this clear (pages 249-250):

Unlike music, which had been his passion from boyhood, Heath only took up sailing in middle age, a few weeks before his fiftieth birthday when he was already in the full glare of media attention as Leader of the Opposition… He began in the smallest possible way, taking lessons from an instructor whose kiosk happened to catch his attention on Broadstairs jetty in the summer of 1966. Up to that time he had done no more than mess around in a dinghy on holiday with the Seligmans in Brittany in the 1950s and at Villefranche the previous summer. In his book Sailing Heath claims that sat a boy he had always been fascinated by boats and the sea, but could never afford to do anything about it. (1)

Second, someone who has researched Heath’s movements in 1962 writes that “Heath was out of UK for all but 7 days late June-mid Sept 1962. Those 7 days accounted for. He was negotiating UK entry to Common Market so well covered in media.”

It is also unclear why Tarraga did not go public in 2015, during a period when various lurid claims about Heath were being published in the media, and there was even a high-profile police trawling investigation. Rather than not being believed, his story would have been lapped up uncritically.

It is not pleasant to have to contradict an abuse survivor who is currently enjoying some well-deserved validation and sympathy over a horrendous childhood – one obviously doesn’t want to pain a vulnerable adult, and to appear to have done so can have uncomfortable consequences on social media. However, no-one alive or dead should be subjected to reputational destruction based on claims that are untrue, and in this instance the evidence exonerating Heath is conclusive.

There is also a wider public interest here – false claims about “VIP abuse” not only muddy the waters for anyone who has a genuine allegation; as with the American “QAnon” conspiracy theory (which Brees has endorsed), stories about “elite paedophiles” are also weaponised by fringe political groups (and Wedger has addressed at least one such group).

Whatever way Tarraga was coaxed into re-remembering his past so that it that contradicts known facts, Wedger and Brees have exploited and humiliated him for their own ends, and this cannot pass without comment.

Footnote

1. A photo of Heath “messing around” in a rowing boat with his godson Lincoln Seligman on holiday in France in 1965 was published by the journalist Mark Watts in 2017. Watts had been led to believe that it was “taken in Jersey in 1972”, and Seligman, viewed from the rear, was not identified. The implication was that this was photographic evidence of Heath’s supposed association with teenage boys on the island, in particular from the Haut de la Garenne children’s care home. Although Watts had been misled, and he was afterwards censured by IMPRESS over the error, he has never explained where this false “Jersey” attribution came from.