Tag Archives: Operation Conifer

October 15 2017 – “Ted Heath sex abuse expert: I’d never let him near children” / “Met DIDN’T probe claim by 11-year-old” – Mail on Sunday – Simon Walters


‘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 

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

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

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 

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’.

Ted Heath would have been questioned over sex abuse allegations


October 6 2017 – “We don’t know if Ted Heath abused boys, but it’s right to try to find out” – The Guardian


Illustration by Robert G Fresson
Illustration by Robert G Fresson

How could it possibly be true? The idea that Britain could have unknowingly harboured a paedophile prime minister, a man whose predilection for assaulting children didn’t stop him reaching the highest office in the land, is so grotesque as to be almost inconceivable.

We know about Jimmy Savile, about the MP Cyril Smith, about how horribly easy it can be to abuse in plain sight if enough people choose not to see. We know too about the suppression of inconvenient truth in scandals from Hillsborough downwards.

But still, a senior politician so obviously in the glare of the spotlight and so vulnerable to blackmail, raping and getting away with it? Even half a century ago, it’s still hard to imagine nobody would have known or had the decency to act.

Yet the findings of Operation Conifer require us at least to imagine such a thing. Were he still alive, Ted Heath would be in a police station now being interviewed under caution about seven separate alleged assaults, on boys as young as 10 and 11 as well as adult men. Indeed, it may only be the failure to imagine such a thing that prevented Heath from being interviewed while he was still here to defend himself.

We still await a ruling from the Independent Police Complaints Commission on three alleged historical failures by police to deal appropriately with concerns raised about Heath, and whether these were indeed missed opportunities to get at the truth. But it is surely not the alleged victims’ fault that Wiltshire police’s verdict – that it is impossible to say Heath was guilty, but equally impossible to find him innocent – feels so horribly unsatisfactory.

For if true, these allegations are cataclysmic, shaking whatever trust remains in the establishment to its foundations. Yet it is very much an “if”. Had Heath been questioned before his death, it is perfectly possible he would have been cleared. The ignominious collapse of the recent Metropolitan police inquiry into alleged abuse by a string of public figures, after its star witness “Nick” was discredited, is an uncomfortable reminder that victims can also be liars. (It remains hard not to see both Nick, and those whose lives he wrecked by accusing them, as victims, if only in Nick’s case of his own demons.)

Sir Edward Heath
‘It may only be the failure to imagine such a thing that prevented Heath from being interviewed while he was still here to defend himself.’ Photograph: Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

It’s rare, but it happens, and perhaps especially when big names are involved. In the Heath case, police concluded that at least two of the many allegations against him they dismissed were deliberate attempts to mislead. Nothing in this murky affair is clear. Yet that hasn’t stopped a public rush to judgment, with some commentators crying witch-hunt while others claim there is no smoke without fire.

But if Wiltshire police couldn’t be sure about Heath after two years of investigation, then the rest of us aren’t going to crack the case based on gut prejudice alone. You don’t know. I don’t know. And yet there may be lessons to learn from this collective ignorance.

The Heath case is in that sense a prelude to the historical child abuse inquiry set up by Theresa May, which faces similar difficulties in following trails that may have long gone cold, but on a vastly bigger scale.

Despite the warnings that they weren’t set up to try individual cases, that their purpose was to give victims a voice and draw overarching general lessons rather than to prove guilt or innocence beyond the grave, the inquiry now led by Alexis Jay (after several false starts) also faces expectations it surely can’t hope to meet.

Yet the alternatives to opening this Pandora’s box all seem worse. Difficult as it has been, Chief Constable Mike Veale (who led the Heath inquiry for Wiltshire police) was right that it would have been a “dereliction of duty” not to investigate claims against such a senior politician. Silence would have been deadly not just for the victims – if that is indeed what they were – but for a wider establishment that now feels itself under siege. Into the vacuum would have crept any number of conspiracy theories.

Abuse victims everywhere would have felt publicly disbelieved and perpetrators, perhaps, relieved. The unforgivable failure by previous generations to ensure justice was done in child abuse cases confers a moral responsibility on this one to try. What the Ted Heath example provides is an early test of our ability to deal with the resulting messy ambiguity.

We don’t need to know whether Heath himself was guilty to grasp how such things could have been theoretically possible, and that is the key to knowing how to stop them. It could have been possible not only because of the culture of deference surrounding politicians 50 years ago, but because the word of a prostitute (several of the allegations relate to paid sexual encounters) or child could so easily not have been believed over that of the leader of the opposition. Time and time again, we see abuse going unchecked when the abuser is deemed more significant or credible than the victim.

That’s how it happened with the grooming gangs operating in so many British cities, exploiting girls in care and getting away with it because those girls were dismissed as trouble. That’s how it happened at the BBC, where nobody questioned the teenagers passing in and out of Savile’s dressing room because he was “the talent” and the talent was to be indulged.

It’s how it happened in churches and boarding schools, doctors’ surgeries and football clubs, and anywhere else – including within families – women and children were taught to submit to a higher authority who could not be questioned. It’s how it happens still in jury deliberations on so-called date rape cases, where he comes across as such a promising young man, and anyway wasn’t she drunk? To this day, opportunist attackers and abusers still single out the victims least likely to be believed; the troubled, the marginalised, the easily blamed.

But the lesson from all this is not to believe all victims unquestioningly. Rather, it is to refrain from disbelieving any group of people without good reason, and to follow instead where the evidence leads. Ironically, the single greatest danger to potential future victims may be precisely that rush to judge so many instinctively feel in the Heath case; the unthinking assumptions we all harbour, if we’re honest, about who looks most like the liar.

Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist