Former prime minister Sir Edward Heath is being investigated by numerous police forces over allegations of child sex abuse.
The Metropolitan police are looking at the late MP as part of a major probe into claims of a VIP paedophile ring in the 1970s and 1980s, an investigation known as "Operation Midland", according to the BBC. Heath is also being investigated by police in Wiltshire, Jersey, Hampshire, and Kent.
The dramatic claims came to light on Monday when a police watchdog group – the Independent Police Complaints Commission – announced an inquiry into whether Wiltshire police shelved allegations of child abuse made against Heath in the 1990s.
Heath was the Conservative prime minister from 1970 to 1974, and died at his home in Salisbury in 2005. He never married and was famously reserved about his private life.
The Daily Mirror reported on Tuesday that a man claimed he was raped at the age of 12 by the former PM. He said the assault took place in an exclusive Mayfair flat in 1961, when Heath was a Tory MP.
The States of Jersey police confirmed on Tuesday that Heath is part of an inquiry into alleged historical abuse on the island. Kent police also said it had received a report of a sexual assault allegedly linked to Heath in the 1960s. Wiltshire police and the NSPCC children's charity said they had received "a number of calls" following appeals for information.
Hampshire police said on Tuesday night that it was "investigating allegations" but refused to give further details. The Metropolitan police have not confirmed claims they are investigating Heath. A spokesperson said: "We are not giving a running commentary on Operation Midland."
Former Tory MP Brian Binley urged caution over the allegations. He told the BBC: "I find it very difficult to believe from the Ted Heath that I knew. There are many unanswered questions here and I don't think it would be right and fair to jump to conclusions about a man who served his country with dignity and with care, who was a considerable intellect, loved his music."
The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said: "We welcome the investigation by Wiltshire police, which we wholeheartedly believe will clear Sir Edward's name and we will cooperate fully with the police in their inquiries."
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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