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'No evidence' prosecution of woman shelved over alleged Sir Edward Heath link

Published 12/05/2016

Investigators found no evidence that the prosecution of a woman was shelved after allegations were made against Sir Edward Heath
Investigators found no evidence that the prosecution of a woman was shelved after allegations were made against Sir Edward Heath

There is no evidence a prosecution against a brothel keeper was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward Heath had been involved in sexual offences, an investigation has found.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission launched a probe into alleged historical corruption after information from a retired officer raised concerns that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994.

It was alleged the defendant had threatened to tell the press she supplied former prime minister Sir Edward with males under the age of consent for sex if the trial went ahead.

Investigators examined the circumstances around the outcome of a court case relating to former brothel owner Myra Ling Ling Forde, in February 1994.

The watchdog said it found no evidence to support the suggestion that the alleged comment had any bearing on the outcome.

It also found no evidence that other officers within Wiltshire were aware of the alleged comment and failed to act upon it.

The IPCC said: " 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."

Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.

He became the most high-profile figure linked to historical abuse allegations last year.

After the IPCC investigation was announced, Wiltshire Police appealed for potential victims and others with information to come forward.

In the days that followed, it emerged that a number of other forces were also carrying out inquiries.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Wiltshire Police said: "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 inquiry."

Wiltshire Police were appointed as the lead national force for the investigation into allegations of historical child sex abuse relating to Sir Edward.

It said: "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."

Former friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have rallied to defend his reputation and criticised the way the investigation is being handled.

When the furore first erupted, in a statement via her former lawyer Ms Forde denied threatening to expose the politician.

She later claimed in an interview that she arranged male escorts for Sir Edward but insisted he was not a paedophile.

The IPCC report said: "As far as can be ascertained until her interview with a newspaper published on August 12 2015 she had never told the media about Sir Edward being a client."

Wiltshire Police disclosed earlier this week that the investigation into Sir Edward has cost £367,965 so far.

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