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12 May 2016, 14:01 | Updated: 12 May 2016, 14:07
An IPCC investigation into Wiltshire Police has found no evidence that a prosecution was not pursued because a defendant threatened to allege publicly that Sir Edward Heath had been involved in sexual offences involving young men.
The investigation stemmed from information from a retired senior officer raising concerns that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994. It was alleged that the defendant had threatened to tell the press she supplied Sir Edward with males under the age of consent for sex if the trial went ahead.
The IPCC examined the circumstances around the outcome of the court case relating to brothel-owner Myra Ling Ling Forde, in February 1994. We investigated whether the comment allegedly made about Sir Edward to a former police officer at court had any bearing on the outcome. We also looked at the actions of Wiltshire Police in connection with the alleged comment.
The investigation found no evidence to support the suggestion that the alleged comment had any bearing on the outcome of the trial against Ms Forde. It also found no evidence that other officers within Wiltshire were aware of the alleged comment and failed to act upon it.
The investigation concluded that the trial against Ms Forde was stopped by the prosecution because their witnesses would not attend court or refused to give evidence.
Statement From Wiltshire Police:
“Today, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced that they have found no evidence that a court case was allegedly inappropriately stopped by Wiltshire Police in the 1990’s or that any Wiltshire Police officers should face misconduct proceedings.
Wiltshire Police had initially referred this matter to the IPCC in March 2015 following receipt of information from a retired senior officer. The information raised concerns that potentially Wiltshire Police may have deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994 as a result of claims that the person involved had allegedly supplied males under the age of consent to a prominent individual.
Upon receipt of the referral, the IPCC made a decision that they would investigate the matter independently of Wiltshire Police and on 3 August 2015 they named the prominent individual subject of the allegations as Sir Edward Heath. Up until this point the identity of Sir Edward Heath had not been released by Wiltshire Police.
The IPCC’s investigation looked into allegations of potential police misconduct, and not into whether any allegations of child sex abuse had potentially been committed by Sir Edward Heath or any other party.
As a result of the announcement by the IPCC naming Sir Edward Heath, Wiltshire Police felt it was appropriate to make an appeal to the public for any information relating to the allegation.
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 enquiry.
Wiltshire Police was appointed as the lead Force nationally for the investigation into allegations of non-recent child sex abuse relating to Sir Edward Heath.
At this time, the investigation led by Wiltshire Police continues and a panel of independent experts outside of policing is providing ongoing scrutiny of the investigation and its proportionality.
There has been significant public interest, comment and speculation in relation to the police investigation. We would like to reassure the public that the Force is investigating with an open mind and our purpose is to go where the evidence takes us. Wiltshire Police seeks to be proportionate, impartial and fair, in order to provide the public with confidence in the police response to these allegations.
However, the Force will not discuss details relating to the on-going investigation and it would not be fair to any party to comment on any further detail at this time.
Wiltshire Police is committed to protecting the most vulnerable within our communities and treats every case of reported sexual abuse extremely seriously, working closely with partners and other forces. Wiltshire Police will continue to do all that it can to protect the integrity of the investigation and the anonymity of those people coming forward.”