After decades of speculation, British police have said new evidence presents a serious case against Edward Heath. The former prime minister died in 2005 after 50 years in the Conservative party.
Deceased British Prime Minister Edward Heath would have faced police interrogation over child abuse claims if he were still alive, police announced on Thursday.
The Conservative politician, who served as the country's leader from 1970 to 1974, was accused of raping and indecently assaulting five boys.
Heath was the subject of a mammoth two-year police investigation after being named as a suspect during a historical child abuse probe.
Heath, who died in 2005 aged 89, was alleged to have raped an 11-year-old during a paid sexual encounter, and separately indecently assaulted a 10-year-old boy, officers revealed.
"Sir Edward Heath was an extremely prominent, influential and high-profile person who was arguably one of the most powerful people in the world," Wiltshire police Chief Constable Mike Veale said, announcing the investigation's findings. "The allegations against him were of the utmost seriousness and from a significant number of people."
Of the 42 allegations made against Heath, seven would have warranted further questioning, but Chief Constable Veale said that detectives drew no conclusions about his innocence or guilt.
The alleged incidents occurred between 1956 to 1992 when he was serving as a Member of Parliament but not during his stint as prime minster, said Wiltshire Police.
Heath was notable for negotiating Britain's entry into the European Economic Community which later became the European Union. He was ousted from Downing Street by Margaret Thatcher after losing two elections. He remained an MP until 2001 and was "father of the house," the longest-serving parliamentarian at Westminster, for nine years.
Heath's godson, Lincoln Seligman, said the police investigation had cast a stain over a man who could not defend himself.
"If allegations are out there he might easily have been called in for questioning," he told BBC radio. "They had to question him, but that tells us nothing."
The findings followed decades of rumors, speculation, alleged cover-ups and previous aborted or discredited investigations.
aw/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)