‘I’d never let him near children’: Leading child sex abuse expert who investigated said she would not trust former Prime Minister Ted Heath were he alive today
- Dr Elly Hanson says Ted Heath would not meet ‘modern safeguarding criteria’
- She hit out at the ‘hostile’ response to police enquiry into the late Prime Minister
- Compared it to the Harvey Weinstein scandal in being late to surface in media
One of Britain’s leading experts on child sex abuse who took part in the investigation into paedophile claims against Sir Edward Heath has said she would not trust him with children were he alive today.
Dr Elly Hanson, a clinical psychologist who specialises in abuse and trauma, said her opinion was based on secret evidence obtained by police concerning Sir Edward’s alleged crimes.
She also criticised the ‘hostile’ response to the police inquiry into the former Prime Minister, who died in 2005, which said he should be questioned under caution over the abuse allegations if he were alive.
Dr Hanson compared the response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the silence that shrouded his alleged behaviour before this month’s revelations, arguing that it deterred other sex abuse victims from reporting crimes.
She spoke out after Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale faced pressure to resign over claims that he was ‘duped’ by ‘fantasist’ allegations against Sir Edward.
Dr Elly Hanson (pictured) , a clinical psychologist and one of the leading experts on child sex abuse, says she would not trust former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath with children if he were alive today
A report by Mr Veale said seven of 42 allegations of assault by Sir Edward of young boys would justify questioning him under caution – though did not prove his guilt.
Dr Hanson told The Mail on Sunday: ‘On the balance of probabilities and based on the information I have seen, if I was asked to decide if Sir Edward should have access to children I would say he would not meet the modern safeguarding threshold to protect them from risk.’
One of four ‘independent scrutineers’ given full access to secret details of child sex allegations against Sir Edward, Dr Hanson praised the ‘professional, thorough and sensitive’ inquiry.
‘Just because a jury can never decide guilt or otherwise in this case does not mean we cannot or should not even look at it,’ she said.
‘Jimmy Savile, Cyril Smith and Harvey Weinstein are all innocent in the eyes of the law, but we have been able to have a discussion about what they are alleged to have done.
Yet some appear to think we are not entitled to have the same discussion about Sir Edward Heath.
‘I am not saying he is in the same category as them, or that he is guilty. But in my view, the fact that he was Prime Minister makes it all the more important that we can discuss it.’
She said some of the evidence obtained by police was ‘very compelling’, often with ‘supporting information’.
Dr Hanson said: ‘The hostile response by some to the inquiry into Sir Edward Heath is disappointing. To label everyone who comes forward as fantasist is unfair and unhelpful. It sends completely the wrong message to all victims of sexual abuse.
‘As we have seen in the Weinstein case, if they feel they won’t be listened to they will remain silent.’
A recent report said seven of 42 allegations of assault by Ted Heath (pictured) of young boys would justify questioning him under caution
She was backed by fellow ‘scrutineer’ Perdeep Tanday, who runs a pharmacy business in Salisbury, Sir Edward’s home city.
Mr Tanday, appointed to ‘represent the public view’, said he was ‘shocked’ to learn from detectives of details of Sir Edward’s alleged crimes.
He said: ‘I always had great respect for Edward Heath as a politician but the allegations were shocking.
I believe the majority were 100 per cent genuine and convincing. The evidence was of a high quality and in many cases corroborated.’
Asked if he would have trusted Sir Edward with his three grown-up sons when they were younger, Mr Tanday declined to answer.
Mr Tanday, 51, added: ‘Unlike those criticising Mr Veale, I know the facts.
The evidence was gathered by detectives with decades of experience of investigating rape, murder and other serious crimes. I trust them.’
Mr Veale received further support from Wiltshire MP Claire Perry, former adviser to David Cameron on the sexualisation of children.
‘We would have been doing victims of sexual abuse a great disservice if we hadn’t investigated these claims and I fully support Mike Veale,’ said Ms Perry.
But Wiltshire North Conservative MP James Gray, who knew Sir Edward, said: ‘Mr Veale tried to make a name for himself on the back of the Jimmy Savile hysteria and came unstuck.
‘He has besmirched Sir Edward’s good name and should resign.’
The two other ‘scrutineers’, human rights QC Danny Friedman and surgeon Professor Vassilios Papalois, said Operation Conifer was ‘fair, sensitive and rigorous’.
Met police DID NOT probe claim by 11-year-old boy that he had been abused by Ted Heath because of policy not to investigate allegations against dead people
- The now 68-year-old alleged victim reported made a complaint in April 2015
- It was assumed the Met had investigated before deciding not to pursue the case
- But it has been revealed it wasn’t looked into because of lack of ‘current risk’
A key criticism levelled at the police chief under fire for the paedophile investigation into Sir Edward Heath was exposed as false today.
Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale has been condemned for including the alleged rape of an 11-year-old boy by Sir Edward in 1961 among seven cases he said would warrant questioning the former Prime Minister under caution were he alive today.
Critics said Mr Veale had blundered because Scotland Yard ‘investigated’ the case in 2015 and ‘dropped’ it.
In fact, Scotland Yard did NOT investigate the claim because they secretly introduced a policy ‘not to prove or disprove’ child sex allegations against dead people, The Mail on Sunday can disclose.
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Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale (pictured)’s team did not investigate an 11-year-old boy’s claim that he was abused by former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath because of a policy not to look into cases involving dead people
However Mr Veale’s team DID investigate it and found evidence that they say suggests it could be true.
The alleged victim of the rape, who is now 68 and went on to be convicted of child sex abuse crimes himself, complained to the Metropolitan Police in April 2015.
Four months later, the force said it had obtained a ‘full account’ from the complainant and, after a ‘full assessment of the allegation’, decided there were ‘no lines of inquiry that could be proportionately pursued’.
The statement was interpreted as meaning that the Met had carried out a full investigation and dismissed the claim as groundless – and was used to attack Mr Veale’s claim that the allegation was serious.
However, this newspaper can disclose that Scotland Yard did not investigate the matter because of its new policy on ‘response to allegations of sexual abuse against deceased suspects’ – which can be revealed for the first time.
In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, a Scotland Yard spokesperson said the rules state: ‘The purpose is not to prove or disprove the offence reported.’
Instead, the main aim is to find out if the suspect was linked to other abusers and prevent any ‘current risk to children’.
It adds: ‘A full and detailed criminal investigation may not be required to achieve this.’
By contrast, Mr Veale’s team was ordered to carry out a full investigation into the claims against Sir Edward, who died in 2005.
Rules set out last year by Operation Hydrant, the national police inquiry into all historic child sex abuse inquiries, said it was vital to ‘establish the facts and identify offenders deceased or not.
‘The closer to power, the greater is the duty to investigate.
Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath (pictured) died in 2005. Since his death it has been alleged he committed several sexual assaults against young boys
‘Due to Sir Edward’s prominence, it is particularly relevant to investigate allegations against him.’
Mr Veale’s supporters reject criticism for investigating complaints by ‘victims’ who may have gone on to abuse children themselves or were rent boys.
They highlighted research that suggests some people become abusers as a result of being abused themselves as young children.
A well-placed source said: ‘Wiltshire Police fully expected to discover the Heath claims were nonsense, and that if there was any evidence, it would be well hidden.
‘They were as surprised as anyone to find the evidence was there with telltale patterns of behaviour, but no one had really looked for it.
‘If, as they believe, some of the allegations are true, other police forces who failed to act in the past will have a lot to answer for.’
The controversy took a new twist yesterday after the alleged rape victim’s sister reportedly said her brother’s claims were a ‘crock of ****’. She is said to have called him a ‘born liar’.