Demands for inquiry over Wiltshire Police sex abuse investigation into former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath

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

Wiltshire Police's investigation against the former premier concluded that seven claims of rape and indecent assault would have justified Sir Edward being questioned under caution. But a further 35 allegations did not meet the threshold for a formal interview.

Former cabinet minister Lord Hunt of Wirral, who is chairman of the Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, said there was urgent need for an independent judge-led inquiry to review the findings of Operation Conifer.

Sir Edward's reputation has been unfairly tarnished. No living person would be subject to a process which involves a trawl for accusations with no independent assessment of the 'evidence', or any details of the supposed place, time and circumstances of the alleged assaults.

– Lord Hunt of Wirral

Lord Hunt said they would be writing to the Government to seek the appointment of a retired judge to review material collected through Wiltshire Police's Operation Conifer.

Sir Edward Heath died in 2005 Credit: PA

Operation Conifer was launched in 2015 and co-ordinated inquiries by 14 police forces after Sir Edward was named as a suspect into historical child abuse.

The inquiry proved controversial since it began when a senior police officer made an appeal outside Sir Edward's former home, Arundells in Salisbury, asking for potential victims to come forward. Police have since apologised for holding a press conference there.

Lord Hunt said he would be seeking full access to the report and wanted to know why government officials and police protection officers with knowledge of Sir Edward's movements during the period of investigation were not interviewed.

Trustees of the foundation and friends of Sir Edward have been heartened by the support we have received since the report's publication and remain firmly convinced of his innocence.

– Lord Hunt of Wirral