Wiltshire police’s investigation into child abuse allegations levelled at the former prime minister Sir Edward Heath was a “shambolic” and “unjustified charade”, a prominent defence lawyer said yesterday.
Operation Conifer, led by Wiltshire’s chief constable Mike Veale, published a “closure report” last week that has been criticised since for saying that Heath would have been interviewed under caution if her were still alive. David Corker, a founding partner at one of London’s leading criminal law firms, Corker Binning, described the investigation – which had £1 million of special funding from the Home Office – as “reminiscent of Oliver Cromwell’s conviction of treason at the Old Bailey in 1660, despite having died in 1658”.
Corker told The Brief that “while Cromwell’s cadaver was once disinterred from Westminster Abbey, placed in the dock, and sentenced – absurdly – to death, today the memory of Sir Edward Heath has been cast into a public show trial”. The lawyer also invoked recent Russian history, pointing out that in 2013 Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer, was tried despite dying in custody in 2009. “The Kremlin was globally denounced for orchestrating a Stalinist show trial that disparaged the memory of an anti-corruption campaigner,” Corker said.
He argued that “the nexus” of the posthumous treatment of Magnitsky and Heath “is that the act of putting the deceased on trial serves not the purpose of ensuring and/or establishing justice, but the purpose of influencing and/or satisfying public opinion”.
Corker went on to describe the finding that Heath would have been interviewed under caution as “meaningless” in legal terms. “The outcome is little more than an elaborate slur on the memory of the dead,” he said.
This article was originally published in The Times Law Brief and can be accessed here, behind a paywall.