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But in May a year ago, the probe found no evidence to support the corruption claims involving madam Myra Ling-Ling Forde, who herself said she had no knowledge of misconduct.

Seven of the 42 claims against him - which included rape and indecent assault of children aged as young as 10 - met the criteria for further investigation, Wiltshire Police said.

He died on July 17, 2005 aged 89 after suffering from a pulmonary embolism a few years before.

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath announces his retirement from the House of Commons, in 2000.

"It contains a summary of the investigation, but draws no conclusion as to Sir Edward's guilt although during the investigation the Chief Constable was heard to express, as he certainly should not have done, his personal view that Sir Edward Heath was probably guilty".

Sir Edward was the most high-profile political figure to be linked to child sex abuse allegations that swept across Westminster.

Last year, the probe found no evidence that a prosecution against brothel-keeper Myra Ling-Ling Forde was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward had been involved in sexual offences.

Two of the offences including the alleged rape - are said to have taken place during "paid sexual encounters".

Other claims also related to "paid encounters", including one when he was trade minister, as well as during chance meetings. The alleged incident was "over clothing", according to the police.

"Of the large pool of allegations contained in today's report, six of them would definitively have led the police to interview Sir Edward under caution".

"It is no surprise at all that Wiltshire police should have concluded that they would have interviewed Sir Edward had he been alive. Many will think it is an attempt to derail, silence and discredit the investigation before the report has been delivered".

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, this week defended Sir Edward.

Known as Ted Heath, he led the United Kingdom into what became the European Union, however during his time as prime minister the country suffered from high inflation and major strikes.

During the two-year investigation there were allegations of crimes by Sir Edward against 40 people, made either directly by the victim, anonymously or by a third party.

He said "a significant number of people" had made complaints about Heath.

"I hope people will understand that, given these circumstances, it would be an indefensible dereliction of my public duty as a Chief Constable not to have investigated such serious allegations against a former Prime Minister, even though he is deceased". He goes on to say that the report "does not apportion guilt" nor does it suggest or conclude guilt. Presumption of innocence was enshrined in the law, Veale said.

Operation Midland was based on the testimony of one source, known as "Nick", who was later discredited and the operation dropped, before an independent report by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques found 43 separate police failings.

Veale anticipated criticism of the decision to investigate allegations about a dead person, and said some would have criticised the cost (£1.5 million, NZ$2.8 million), while others "would always defend the conduct of others".


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