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UK police release report on ex-premier's abuse claims

UK POLICE RELEASE REPORT ON EX-PREMIERS ABUSE CLAIMS

Former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath would have been questioned over child sex abuse allegations if he was alive when the claims were first made, British police said in a report on Thursday.

The Wiltshire Police said in a summary closure report into Operation Conifer -- launched in 2015 -- that they "carried out an impartial and thorough investigation in line with national guidance and advice from the College of Policing".

"The guidance clearly states that there is a legal duty for the police... to proportionately investigate criminal allegations made against deceased persons," it said.

The allegations made against Heath include one of rape of a male under 16, three of indecent assault on a male under 16, four of indecent assault on a male under 14, and two of indecent assault on a male over 16.

"In the case of seven individual disclosures, if Sir Edward Heath had been alive today, it has been concluded that he would have been interviewed under caution in order to obtain his account in relation to the allegations made against him," police said, in one of the conclusions of their investigation.

However, the report also said "the role of the police in a criminal investigation is not to reach a conclusion as to the likely guilt or innocence of a person who is subject to allegations".

"Therefore, the findings in the report published today do not state whether Sir Edward Heath was guilty of any criminal offences or comment on the prospect of a successful prosecution had he been alive today," it added.

The Operation Conifer report looked into 42 claims related to 40 different individuals, with alleged offences from 1956 to 1992.

"In line with the constituted powers of the inquiry, Wiltshire Police will, on receipt of further Section 21 notices, make available to IICSA any further material that it deems relevant to its terms of reference," Wiltshire Police said.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said it would investigate further.

"In regard to the allegations concerning Sir Edward Heath, the inquiry will investigate whether there was any knowledge within Westminster institutions, and if so, what actions were taken," a spokesman from IICSA said.

Sir Edward Heath served as prime minister between 1970 and 1974 and he was the leader of the Conservative Party between 1966 and 1975.

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