A lawyer representing Jersey abuse victims has said it was widely believed that Edward Heath was “implicated” in child sex abuse on the island – but that making a solid case against him was “like pinning down a jellyfish”.
Police in Jersey have confirmed that Sir Edward “does feature” in an ongoing inquiry into decades of abuse on the Crown dependency, making them one of five forces investigating allegations against the former Tory Prime Minister.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the inquiry said no evidence was provided in public or private during its hearings to suggest that children from the Haut de la Garenne orphanage were allowed to visit Sir Edward on his boat, the Morning Cloud.
Alan Collins, a sexual abuse litigation expert who represented Haut de la Garenne victims, told The Independent: “There were always hints, suggestions, but I never met anybody who actually said to me 'I was abused by Ted Heath' or 'I know someone who was'.
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“There seems to have been this currency that somehow he was implicated, but it was always like pinning down a jellyfish – it was very elusive.”
Leah McGrath Goodman, a respected US journalist with Newsweek, has said she was banned from the UK for two years after she tried to investigate allegations of abuse surrounding Sir Edward in 2011. The Uk Border Agency has said her ban was unrelated to her work, according to the Daily Mail.
A financial reporter, she was researching Jersey’s function as a tax haven when, she says, she heard about the growing scandal and the island’s “culture where people were much more likely to look the other way”.
She told Sky News: "[Police officers investigating claims at the children's home] had heard the rumours and I know a few of the senior members of the police believed that [Sir Edward] was at it.
Among those who regularly visited the Haut de la Garenne home was the now-disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile.
“Jimmy Savile often stayed in the same hotel as Ted Heath,” McGrath Goodman told the dpa news agency, adding that both men were alleged to have taken children from Haut de la Garenne.
Mr Collins, who is now representing victims in the broader inquiry into “what went wrong in the island’s care system over many years”, said Jersey Police need to be “a lot more candid and forward” now they have confirmed Sir Edward is involved in the investigation.
“The way they have allowed it to be reported currently is not fair on anybody,” he said. “I’ve had genuine victims phoning me up worried about whether they might have to speak to the police again.
“The police have got to be open – if he did things, committed crimes, they need to give us dates and locations so we know and people can come forward.
“On the other hand, if they are just tidying up their records and there are no new allegations then they should say so. He was our Prime Minister after all, and if it’s just a case of throwing it out there in case somebody new comes forward it’s wrong, that’s not the way to go about it.”
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From the archives
Kincora: Sex racket at children's home (Irish Independent, 1980)
Independent News Service