Today’s Guardian online reports that Wiltshire Police have stated that Operation Conifer, the investigation into allegations that Edward Health abused children, has resulted in the conclusion that there were grounds to suspect Heath of child sexual abuse and that if he were still alive he may have been formally interviewed under criminal caution. The Wiltshire Police are due to release a report into the matter next week, following their two year investigation.
Despite the huge quantities of mud thrown in the direction of Operation Conifer, the Wiltshire police maintain that they have received a number of accounts from people who claim to have been abused by Heath that they consider to be ‘credible’. Lincoln Seligman, Heath’s godson, is quoted in the Guardian as saying that a judge-led review of the evidence is the ‘only way of getting to the truth’. In the light of what I have witnessed judges doing in Court and the research that I’ve done whilst writing this blog, I’m not sure that Lincoln’s faith in a judge to get to the truth is well-placed.
The article about Heath only appeared on the Guardian’s website late this morning, but today’s print edition of the Daily Telegraph also contains an article about Heath and Operation Conifer, which presumably would have been compiled late last night. This article quotes a ‘key aide’ of Heath’s who was ‘astonished’ that he was not contacted by Conifer. The key aide in question is Lord Stephen Sherbourne who ran Heath’s Private Office. Sherbourne has told the Telegraph that he ‘never’ heard any rumours about Heath, ‘absolutely none’. The Telegraph also makes reference to ‘critics’ of the police investigation into Heath who criticise the police’s decision not to question Heath’s diary keepers, one of which was Sherbourne.
Perhaps I’m being overly cynical here, but if Heath had been doing anything at all that was unlawful let alone molesting children, I very much doubt that the appointments for such activities would have been listed in his diaries, particularly the diary kept by his key political aide ie. Sherbourne. As for Sherbourne ‘never’ hearing any rumours – well perhaps he did not, but then Esther ‘never’ heard any rumours about Jimmy Savile or her former bedfellow Nicholas Fairbain, although much of the rest of the world seemed to be very well aware of some of their activities.
Lincoln Seligman has popped up in the Telegraph as well, stating that the police have been happy to talk to ‘unreliable witnesses’ but seem to be reluctant to speak to Heath’s aides. Seligman presumably did not sit in on the police interviews and has not yet read the report, so he is in no position to judge the reliability of the witnesses that the police interviewed. Perhaps the police considered that Heath’s aides – who’s role in the Conservative Party will certainly not to have been grassing up their leader for child abuse – would be the unreliable witnesses.
Mike Veale, the Chief Constable of Wiltshire, has stated that he felt pressured to drop the inquiry into Heath. Imagine that. As the CPS won’t give advice on a case in which the suspect is deceased, presumably the Heath case will now fall into the category of a huge game of speculation a la Greville Janner, Cyril Smith and even dear old Savile, with their loyal followers stressing that they were never convicted of anything and died innocent men whilst a great many other people point to evidence suggesting that the only reason that they weren’t ever convicted was because an awful lot of people spent a great deal of time working very hard not to see or hear anything untoward.
Although Stephen Sherbourne ran Heath’s Private Office, he later worked for Heath’s sworn enemy Thatcher, as the head of her Political Office 1983-87. So he’ll have known about Sir Peter Morrison molesting under-aged boys then, because Tories such as Edwina Currie, Rod Richards and Gyles Brandreth have admitted that Morrison’s sexual tastes were openly discussed. Sherbourne was obviously a loyal Tory, because between 2003 and 2005 he was Chief of Staff to Michael Howard when Howard was Leader of the Opposition. The Michael Howard who had been Home Secretary when Mary Wynch was finally stuffed over by the Home Office in 1995. A number of the key figures involved in the unlawful arrest and imprisonment of Mary had been appointed by Heath. Heath was PM 1970-74. At that time the Home Office was directly responsible for running Bryn Estyn.
Sherbourne has had a career outside politics as well – he worked for tobacco companies (just like Ken Clarke, I wonder if perhaps they knew each other) and he worked in PR! Between 1983-88 he was Director of Chime Communications PLC. In 1988 he joined Lowe Bell Consultants (which became Bell Pottinger Consultants) and became their Managing Director. He was later appointed Chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs. Bell Pottinger has just famously imploded as a result of a very stupid campaign that they ran in South Africa. Tim Bell, their leading light, was a mate of Thatcher’s and handled the PR for the Conservative Party. So Sherbourne was the equivalent of Lord Haw Haw – ‘Tories Calling, Tories Calling’.
Sherbourne is a close friend of Michael Portillo. Who was never in the least bit gay and according to Ken Clarke was subject to unfounded rumours about his ‘private life’. When being openly gay was no longer the kiss of death for a Tory politician, Portillo admitted to ‘gay experiences’. As with Heath, there were rumours that Portillo had relationships with under-aged males but I have never seen any evidence of this. However I do know that Portillo was a close associate of people who definitely knew that such things were going on and people who were alleged to have been participating in such things themselves.
Sherbourne is a non-executive director of Smithfields Consultants. Their website describes them as ‘Edelman’s London based specialist capital market and financial services communications consultancy’. I think that translates as ‘we make a great deal of money and conceal a great deal of shit’.
As for the other person casting aspersions on the police investigation, Lincoln Seligman, he is a sculptor and the son of Madron Seligman. Madron was the Tory MEP for West Sussex 1979-84. He is better known as the nearest thing to a friend that Heath had – somehow Madron Seligman managed to remain a close friend of Heath’s from their days at Balliol College, Oxford. Seligman’s Guardian obituary described him as Heath’s ‘lifelong friend and mentor’ and credits him with teaching Heath dinghy-sailing, which was Heath’s first step to becoming an accomplished yachtsman. Heath was such good mates with Seligman that on the day that Thatcher was ousted in 1990, Seligman was one of the first to be phoned by Heath to be told to ‘Rejoice! Rejoice!’…