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  1. ITV Report

Some of evidence in paedophile allegations inquiry into Sir Edward Heath 'fantastical', criminologist says

Some of the 1980s evidence in the police investigations into allegations of child sex abuse by former prime minister Sir Edward Heath is "fantastical" a leading criminologist has told ITV News.

"The fact is that the original 1980s evidence was fantastical, I mean it's full of the most extraordinary, lurid details," Dr Richard Hoskins said as Wiltshire Police prepare to reveal the results of Operation Conifer.

Dr Hoskins was asked by police to examine some of the evidence in the £1.5 million probe, but says he warned them a year ago not to trust all of the claims.

In November, Dr Hoskins said he had "exposed a catalogue of fabrication" at the heart of the probe and warned the force it should immediately end its investigation into a key accuser's "pernicious" claims of satanic ritual abuse.

The leading criminologist also branded the inquiry "a disgrace" and said that, while the force had accepted his report, he had "little confidence" police would pass the findings on to MPs.

Dr Hoskins said he had 'exposed a catalogue of fabrication'. Credit: ITV News

The investigation was launched in 2015 after Sir Edward was named as a suspect in an investigation into historical child sex abuse.

The findings will be passed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is being chaired by Professor Alexis Jay.

Reports emerged at the weekend which claimed that Wiltshire Police believed it would have had enough ground to interview the former Conservative Party leader if he was still alive.

However, Dr Hoskins He continued that statements made by three women and a man called Nick - whose claims of a Westminster paedophile ring have since been discredited - describe Satanic rituals and murder.

"I counted 30 murders alleged to have taken place in which Heath was supposed to have been involved," Dr Hoskins said.

He added: "We were talking about child murders in the middle of Salisbury in daylight.

"Now I have major questions and I raised major question marks about the nature of that evidence, and yet at that point they [the police] did not want to hear me say that. They were adamant.

"They came here and they were adamant right from the outset that Ted Heath was a paedophile."

Operation Conifer has proven controversial since a senior police officer made a television appeal outside Sir Edward's former home in Salisbury urging victims to come forward.

Police made an appeal for information outside Sir Edward's former Salisbury home. Credit: PA

Yet friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have defended him, saying he was "completely asexual" and the child sex abuse allegations were "totally uncharacteristic and unlikely".

Sir Timothy Kitson, who knew the former politician for 35 years and was his parliamentary private secretary during his time at Number 10 from 1970 to 1974, said he had not been questioned by the police despite being one of the people closest to him, adding that the inquiry was "b*******".

Dr Hoskins believes that the case of Jimmy Savile and the prolific sexual abuse he carried out have created a "backlash".

He explained: "Since then there's been a backlash.

"I have never come across a situation where police have seemed to act as judge, jury and executioner in the way they have and that is bang out of order."

Sir Edward Heath was prime minister between 1970 and 1974. Credit: PA

As Wiltshire Police prepare to unveil their findings, Lincoln Seligman, Sir Edward's godson, has called for an official inquiry saying there were serious flaws in Operation Conifer.

"My suspicion is that we will learn nothing from the report except innuendo and that really takes nobody any further forward, except it leaves a dark stain over a man who can't defend himself," he said earlier in October.

"What we are looking for is a judge-led review of a: how the police have conducted Operation Conifer and b: all the evidence it has produced.

"We want a judge to look at that who will be independent and impartial and to me that is the opposite of cover-up, because we want the truth and we believe the truth will exonerate him (Sir Edward)."

Sir Edward Heath died in 2005. Credit: PA

In 2016 the investigation - which was sanctioned by Home Secretary Amber Rudd - found no evidence that a prosecution against a brothel keeper was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward had been involved in sexual offences.

Wiltshire Police say they will not comment until the report is published.

Yet speaking in September, Chief Constable Mike Veale said: "This investigation has followed and complied with national guidance from the outset and throughout and this extends to the publication of the report.

"The report will include detail of the scale and scope of the investigation, and a summary of its findings.

"It is important to stress that it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our criminal justice system.

"Likewise, it is equally as important for people not to speculate about the veracity of the allegations against Sir Edward Heath."

Sir Edward, who was prime minister from 1970 to 1974, died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.