Operation Conifer, the police investigation into allegations of paedophilia-related offences against Sir Edward Heath, UK Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974, is a shameful affair, a shambles. It is infuriating, hellishly frightening, sickening, and it must leave open to serious question the foundations of the justice system at the police investigation stage.
What Superintendent Sean Memory said and did outside the gates of Sir Edward Heath’s Wiltshire home is reprehensible and unforgivable, the televised broadcasting of an appeal outside Sir Edward’s former home in Salisbury asking for “victims” to come forward:
“What is important to me, is are there victims of sexual abuse from Sir Ted Heath, or witnesses and if so I would ask them to come forward today. I would actively encourage people to come forward and trust us.” (‘The Telegraph, 27 February 2017).
The fact that all of these untried allegations are against a man who is dead, who cannot defend himself, has not even had the opportunity of a defence by lawyers/representatives, the fact that none of the accusers have been cross-examined in Court etc etc etc., that makes Sean Memory’s conduct reprehensible. He has destroyed Sir Edward’s reputation to the extent that it will be impossible for him to be 100% exonerated – mud sticks. Such injustice, at the hands of the police, makes my blood boil!!
Furthermore, unless Chief Constable (of Wilshire Police) Mike Veale comes out of what I hope will be a full, independent Inquiry completely innocent of the allegation now being levelled at him, i.e. that he has been conducting a malicious, unprofessional investigation into Sir Edward Heath, he should be made to pay a heavy penalty.
Allegations have been made against a dead man, made in the most public, unprofessional, wicked manner and everyone involved in what is looking more and more like a sickening scandal, if that is what this affair is proven to be, must be punished heavily because not only must justice be done, not only must it be seen to be done but, as I ‘said’ above, the credibility of the justice system at the police investigation stage is a stake.
Moreover, if an Inquiry concludes that Veale et al have behaved despicably, they will have to look all the honest members of all the police forces in the UK straight in the eye and apologise profusely for the shame that they have brought on all of them.
Moving beyond the specifics of Operation Conifer, there is the issue of the unfairness in police investigation procedures relating to allegations of sex-related crimes in general. These are not cases in which someone (person ‘A’) is suspected of/accused of, say, murder – if someone else is found guilty of murder, ‘A’ is fully back in the clear – murder is not one of the “mud sticks” or “there’s no smoke without fire” situations. Of course, once a person ‘A’ has been questioned further to an allegation of sex abuse/assault/rape et al, irrespective of what happens next, e.g. no further questioning, if the identity of person ‘A’ has been publicised, too late, the damage has been done.
South Yorkshire Police tipped off the BBC before a raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home in August 2014. The BBC apologised and Cliff was neither charged nor arrested but no amount of apologies, no compensation, will ever be able to put Cliff back in the position he was in before his name was so publicly associated with sex crimes.
…..and Tarby….and Barrymore….etc….etc….etc….
If someone were to falsely, maliciously accuse me of sexual assault, give a fictitious account to the police, I’d be called in for questioning. Even if I had a water-tight alibi, e.g. I was out of town at the time I was alleged to have committed the offence, my identity would ‘get out’ into the public arena, not everyone would get to learn of my alibi, not everyone who did hear of the alibi would believe it – in essence, some people would continue to ‘point a finger’. Moreover, even if charges were to be preferred, how would I get a fair trial if I was a celebrity? How would it be possible to form a jury, all the members of which would have read ‘skewed’ newspaper reports and formed an opinion? How could justice be done?
I appreciate that one of the ‘genuine’ reasons why the police like to name a suspect is that they hope that other witnesses will come forward but, a), liars/fantasists come forward in the hope of pocketing compensation (e.g. ‘Nick’) and, b), it simply cannot be right – Michael Barrymore, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Tarbuck et al will always be ‘guilty’ in some people’s eyes and what is happening now to Sir Edward Heath, a man who died more than 12 years ago, the lurid accusations being leveled against a man who, it is admitted, would not have been charged were he alive today but in some courts of public opinion has already been found guilty, it makes me angry and desperately upset. The word ‘cowardly’ comes to mind.
I sincerely hope that Sir Edward’s powerful and vociferous supporters succeed in getting an appropriate investigation/Inquiry into Operation Conifer commissioned and that such abuses of civil and human rights become a thing of the past.