Edward Heath claims: Brothel keeper denies accusing former PM

Sir Edward Heath Image copyright PA

A former brothel keeper has denied accusing ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath of involvement in child sexual abuse.

Myra Forde's ex-lawyer says she did not state that the late PM was a client, nor did she threaten to expose him if a prosecution against her was continued.

Forde says she has "no knowledge of any misconduct on his part" and recent media coverage had caused her distress.

The UK's historical child sex abuse inquiry is to examine claims about Sir Edward if "the facts justify it".

The Metropolitan, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Jersey and Kent forces are conducting separate inquiries into the late MP.

The BBC understands Wiltshire Police halted an inquiry into Forde in the 1990s.

Previous convictions

On Monday, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it would look at whether a case was dropped by Wiltshire Police when a person involved made claims against Sir Edward.

Forde was later convicted of controlling prostitutes after a successful prosecution by the same force.

She was jailed for six years after a trial that included allegations that she had supplied children as young as 13 to her clients.

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Myra Forde was convicted in July 2009 of running a brothel in a residential street in Salisbury

Fourteen years later Forde was prosecuted and jailed again for inciting prostitution.

Richard Griffiths, Forde's solicitor in 1992, has now spoken on her behalf to the Salisbury Journal.

He told the newspaper: "My former client wishes me to make it very clear that at no stage did she state that Ted Heath was a client and at no stage did she threaten to expose him as a client of hers if the prosecution was continued.

"For the avoidance of any doubt, Myra Forde wishes me to make it clear that she had no involvement with Ted Heath of any kind and has no knowledge of any misconduct on his part."

He also said that, at the time of that case, the prosecution "took what, at the time, seemed a sensible decision that they could not prove their case and offered no evidence".

Heath investigations

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Operation Midland: The BBC understands Sir Edward is being looked at as part of the operation examining claims that boys were abused by a group of powerful men at locations across southern England and in London in the 1970s and 1980s. It has focused on the Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico, south-west London.
  • Operation Whistle: The States of Jersey Police has confirmed Sir Edward forms part of its investigation into historical allegations of abuse. It says some of the allegations relate to abuse "within institutions or by people of public prominence".
  • Operation Hydrant: A nationally co-ordinated exercise to collate all allegations of historical abuse involving high profile-figures. The operation has been notified of Sir Edward being named in connection with an allegation of sexual assault in the 1960s.

Historical child abuse: Key investigations

A spokesman for the UK's ongoing independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, chaired by Justice Lowell Goddard, said that although the allegations about Sir Edward fell within its terms of reference, it had not received any direct allegations.

Sir Edward, who was Conservative prime minister from 1970 to 1974, died aged 89 in 2005 at his home in Salisbury.

Wiltshire Police has declined to comment on the claims that it did not follow up accusations against him during his lifetime, but has appealed for information regarding allegations against Sir Edward.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Tom Watson said he had referred two allegations of child sexual abuse by Sir Edward to the police since 2012, with police confirming that at least one of those allegations was being investigated.

Friends of Sir Edward have dismissed the claims, saying there is not a shred of evidence to link him to abuse.

The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, which operates the museum at Arundells, his home in Salisbury, said it "wholeheartedly" believed the investigation would clear Sir Edward's name.

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