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Veale butchers Grocer
Satanic Panic, Issue 1455
heath.jpg ONE OF the most controversial aspects of Wiltshire Police’s Operation Conifer, investigating paedophile allegations against former prime minister Sir Edward “Grocer” Heath, was the revelation in the Mail on Sunday on 26 November 2016 that his alleged crimes included child sacrifice and satanic ritual abuse.

Under the headline “Satanic Sex Fantasist” the newspaper reported the conclusion of ritual crime expert Dr Rachel Hoskins, who had been brought in by the force to review witness statements, that the claims were “preposterous” and “fantastical”.

Wiltshire’s beleaguered chief constable Mike Veale retaliated with an extraordinary video “open letter”, posted to YouTube on 2 December 2016, in which he stated unequivocally: “Fact: the recent media coverage… referred to satanic ritual sexual abuse. Let me be clear, this part of the investigation is only one small element of the overall enquiry and does not relate to Sir Edward Heath.” (Our italics.)

Clearly Veale has a selective memory. Or is it a false memory? On page 59 of his Operation Conifer summary closure report, published on 5 October 2017, he states equally unequivocally: “During the course of the investigation six victims made disclosures that included allegations that Sir Edward Heath was involved in satanic or ritual abuse.”

He adds: “Following investigation, no further corroborative evidence was found to support the disclosures that Sir Edward Heath was involved in ritual abuse.”

‘Who’s Who of Satanic Child Abuse’
This will come as a disappointment to Robert Green, a child abuse campaigner and firm believer in satanic ritual abuse, who was jailed for 12 months in 2012 for harassing people he accused of being paedophiles. Green revealed two weeks ago that he had passed to the chief constable details of five witnesses who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Grocer Heath. The information had come from Dr Joan Coleman, a founder of the organisation RAINS (Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support), whom he described as “the eminent specialist into [sic] sexual abuse”.

In the wacky world of the blogosphere and Twitterland, Dr Coleman’s five cases are frequently cited. They appear in a 19-page file compiled by RAINS that appeared online under the headline “The Who’s Who of Satanic Child Abuse” – which, as we reported in Eye 1437, names no fewer than 235 members of a satanic cult, including Sir Edward. “He has been mentioned,” it adds, “by at least 5 SRAS [satanic ritual abuse survivors], none of whom know each other.” The RAINS list is now regarded by conspiracy theorists as proof of “The Satanist Cult of Ted Heath”, the title of an academic paper written by occupational psychologist Dr Rainer Kurz, which he sent to Wiltshire Police last year (see Eye 1452).

The original ur-text for these Satanic Grocer theories is The Biggest Secret, a 1998 book by champion conspiracist David Icke, in which he branded Heath “a child-sacrificing satanist”. Icke now regards chief constable Veale as a hero, tweeting this tribute on 8 October: “At last – a police chief with the guts to take on the Westminster abuse ring and its web of protection.”

‘No inference of guilt’
Perhaps Icke hadn’t read the “closure” report, which revealed that the two-year, £1.5m investigation uncovered no corroborating evidence in any of the 42 allegations made by 40 people (one person making allegations under three different names). The police whittled this down to seven claims – one of which had “undermining evidence” – about which they would have interviewed Heath if he were still alive. But the report stressed that “no inference of guilt” should be drawn from that decision.

From the chief constable’s behaviour, however, Icke and his fans might well have thought otherwise. If Veale didn’t want to create an inference of guilt, why choose for his only two post-report interviews the hacks who have done most to push the idea that Heath was guilty – Simon Walters of the Mail on Sunday and Mark Watts, the former editor-in-chief of the discredited investigative news site Exaro?

It was Watts and Exaro who first promoted the false claims of the witness known as “Nick”, which led to the Met Police’s disastrous £2.5m Operation Midland. With Exaro having gone belly-up last year, Watts published the Veale interview on his two current online outlets, FOIA Centre News and Byline.

“I have been really struck over the last two years by the amount of people that have come to me privately to offer views about their distrust of the political establishment,” the chief constable told Watts, “and their genuine belief that there has been a conspiracy, cover-up and people being complicit, whether that is senior civil servants, colleagues in policing, government, the wider judiciary… the unfortunate thing is, I can’t make a judgement in relation to the assertions they are making. I simply don’t know.” But who needs evidence when you have belief?

‘The cloud of suspicion’
Veale’s interview with his chief supporter in the mainstream media, Simon Walters, was punctuated by gasps of admiration from the MoS fanboy: “Mr Veale, tall and with a rugby wing-forward’s build… His features, as fair and fresh as a cider apple… Mr Veale, whose black shoes gleam like a guardsman’s…” In between these swoonings, Veale told Walters that something sinister was afoot, even if he didn’t know what it was: “I was told early on in Conifer, ‘You’ll lose your job, the Establishment will get you.’ I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe in Martians. I used to think, ‘What are these people on about?’”

Had the Heath investigation changed his mind? “Yes,” Veale replied. “In the last two years I’ve spoken to people who genuinely believe… there are too many people making too many assertions…” He could have spent “two or three more years investigating Sir Edward” if he had been allowed “to dig deeper”.

All this X-Files dialogue ignored the actual outcome of Operation Conifer: no corroborating evidence for satanic abuse, or any sexual abuse by Grocer Heath; no evidence of a conspiracy or cover-up. Yet Veale told a meeting of MPs last December that he believed Sir Edward was “eight out of ten guilty”, according to Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, Heath’s principal private secretary when he was prime minister from 1970 to 1974. Although Armstrong says he was present when Veale made the statement, a spokesman for Wiltshire Police denied the comment was made.

Last week Armstrong repeated his call for an independent judge-led inquiry into Operation Conifer’s investigation into Heath. “As he is dead, the normal provisions and processes of the law are not available to resolve the matter,” he told the House of Lords, “and the cloud of suspicion remains hanging in the air indefinitely.”

More top stories in the latest issue:

LEADSOM ASTRAY
Investment into the UK has been drying up for the last six months – but not if you listen to cheery Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom.

WRIGHT & WRONG
The IT revolution at Revenue & Customs is being overseen by a woman who is on leave from Microsoft – and so will have to ‘leave the room’ the whole time.

DIARIST STRAITS
Culture secretary Karen Bradley takes on an unusual new spin doctor – a former gossip writer from the Mail on Sunday’s ‘Girl About Town’ column.

COURT CIRCULAR
Party leaders who want their moment in the limelight at the Cenotaph is part of the reason the Queen is handing Remembrance Day duties to Prince Brian.

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Private Eye Issue 1454