'No evidence' prosecution dropped over alleged Sir Edward Heath link

Sir Edward Heath Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sixteen officers are investigating claims of historical child sexual abuse involving former PM Sir Edward Heath

An investigation has found no evidence a case against a brothel madam was dropped because she threatened to make allegations against Sir Edward Heath.

The probe into Wiltshire Police stemmed from the aborted prosecution in 1994 of Myra Forde.

A retired senior police officer claimed she had threatened to expose the former prime minister in court as a client to whom she had supplied young boys.

The IPCC found the case was halted when witnesses refused to give evidence.

It was also deemed unclear whether the comment about Sir Edward had even been made.

Did not record incident

The officer making the claims worked undercover to investigate Forde's brothel in the early 1990s.

He gave evidence to the Independent Police Complaints Commission alleging a solicitor had threatened that, if the case went ahead, Forde would make the allegations against Sir Edward.

The policeman was relatively junior at the time and did not record the incident in his notebook.

He told investigators that during his career the incident had worried him and, having seen a TV programme about Jimmy Savile in 2014, he decided to come forward.

However, the IPCC spoke to Forde's solicitor and barrister at the time who both disagreed with his story.

His Honour Judge Seed was the prosecuting barrister at the time. He told the IPCC the decision not to go ahead was solely based on "insufficient evidence".

'Played no part'

The watchdog said Judge Seed was clear when interviewed that "the comment about Sir Edward would have played no part in that process."

"He said he had never met [Sir Edward Heath] and he would not have spared his blushes," the IPCC said.

Another police officer, Ch Insp Richard Kirven, told the IPCC inquiry he had heard rumours that if Forde was charged she would provide information to the press that would "result in embarrassment to certain persons," but he regarded her as "a bit of a fantasist".

Myra Forde refused to speak to the IPCC but told The Sun newspaper last year she had supplied male escorts to Sir Edward Heath.

The retired senior officer who sparked the IPCC inquiry claims in 1994 he passed on the allegation about Myra Forde and Sir Edward to his superior officer at the time.

But the IPCC concluded Wiltshire Police was unaware of it and could not have been expected to investigate.

'Trawling' for victims

The announcement of the IPCC investigation on 3 August last year was followed by a public appeal for "victims" of Sir Edward Heath, by a senior Wiltshire Police officer in front of his former home in Salisbury.

It was strongly criticised as "trawling" for victims.

In a statement today, the force said: "As a result of the appeal, a number of people individually came forward with information. This led to a wider police investigation being established and we are following a number of lines of inquiry."

Operation Conifer employs 16 officers and has so far cost £388,000.

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