When a fantasist called “Nick” said that Harvey Proctor and Edward Heath had co-abused him as a child, and a senior Scotland Yard officer added that this claim was “credible and true”, this site said by contrast that it was incredible and untrue. Our take required no special insight. On the contrary, it was obvious to anyone who knew anything about the two politicians and their view of each other.
And so it proved. The investigation of Proctor collapsed, the police admitted that the “credible and true” claim was a mistake – and then turned on the deluded “Nick” themselves, pondering whether or not to charge him with attempting to pervert the course of justice. But not before Proctor had lost his job and his home.
Heath can be deprived of neither, for obvious reasons, but in common with his one-time political enemy he can be stripped of something else: his reputation for decency. The campaign against it continues. Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday splashed (yes, splashed) on the claim that the Chief Constable investigating further child abuse claims against Heath believes that they are ” ‘120 per cent’ genuine”.
A day later, the man in question, Mike Veale of Wiltshire Police, complained that the Mail‘s story could “undermine trust and confidence in the police, have a potential prejudicial impact upon a live ongoing investigation, not to mention an impact upon the the confidence of persons who have come forward with information”.
The explanation of why the claim appeared in the Mail in the first place may lie in the investigation’s timetable. As the paper itself noted, the operation, “which has a staff of 17 and has run up a bill approaching £1 million, did not get off to a good start when [Veale] had to apologise for launching it in front of cameras outside Sir Edward’s former house, Arundells, in Salisbury”.
It also said that Wiltshire Police plan to publish a report in June. The Mail‘s story looks consistent with senior police officers – not necessarily from Wiltshire, and certainly not the Chief Constable – feeling that they need to justify an investigation that began in the summer of 2015, but which has not yet produced any charges.
Today, the Sunday Times reports that those interviewed by Wiltshire police include “a convicted hoaxer, a Twitter “fantasist” and a sex offender”. The paper will doubtless have appreciated the opportunity to score off a commercial rival (or try to). But the facts to date suggest that the investigation into Heath smacks of a fishing expedition.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met’s only-just-departed Chief Constable, has apologised to Proctor – and, too, to others against whom allegations have been levelled: Paul Gambaccini, Lady Brittan (Leon Brittan’s widow), and Lord Bramall. Hogan-Howe has also said that the police have lost the trust of suspects accused of historical sexual abuse, and that it is “time to reset the balance”.
Heath has no widow or children to fight his cause, and few surviving political supporters, either. His term as Prime Minister was a political failure. His last surviving legacy – Britain’s membership of the European project – collapsed last year (a result for which this site campaigned).
Some older party members will never forgive him for taking the country into the Common Market. To most younger ones, he is little more than the man who was vanquished by Margaret Thatcher. Consequently, he is left with very few supporters. It isn’t necessary to be one of them to believe that it is time for Wiltshire Police to put up or shut up.