British police investigate ex-PM child abuse claims | News | DW | 04.08.2015
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British police investigate ex-PM child abuse claims

The late Sir Edward Heath, who led the United Kingdom between 1970 and 1974, is being investigated for alleged child molestation. A man claims he was raped by the politician at the age of 12.

London's Metropolitan Police is investigating allegations of child sex abuse against former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath amid concerns that similar claims against him were covered by up another UK police force.

On Tuesday, the politician, who died in 2005 at the age of 89, was accused by a tabloid of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy in 1961, nine years before he led the country.

The "Daily Mirror" published claims by a 64-year-old man who said he had been hitchhiking to London when he was picked up by Heath in his car. The politician is said to have invited the boy to spend the night at his apartment where the alleged assault took place.

Wider circle of abuse

The accusations are the latest to rock the British establishment after similar child abuse allegations were made against other prominent Westminster politicians, including former Home Secretary Leon Brittan and Liberal MP Cyril Smith, who both have since died.

Sir Jimmy Savile

Savile was shown to have abused hundreds of victims for decades

The number of abuse claims has surged since Jimmy Savile, one of the BBC's top presenters, was exposed as a pedophile after his death in 2011.

An earlier child sex abuse claim against Heath was made to officials in Wiltshire, a county in western England where the politician had a home. But the allegations were not investigated properly, Britain's police watchdog revealed on Monday.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Tuesday that it had launched an investigation against the late prime minister, as part of the wider sex abuse enquiry.

More victims?

Investigators in Wiltshire called for other potential victims of the politician to come forward as supporters of the late prime minister leapt to his defense.

One friend said the claims were "hard to believe," describing Heath's private life as "very controlled."

Meanwhile, a US journalist revealed that she was expelled from Britain in 2011 while investigating sex abuse claims against Heath and other prominent figures.

Leah McGarth Goodman, who worked for "Newsweek," told LBC radio it was alleged that Heath would take children from care homes for rides on his yacht.

As prime minister, Heath took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973. After a bitter leadership contest, he was succeeded as head of Britain's Conservative Party by Margaret Thatcher. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1992.

mm/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)

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