NORTH Yorkshire Police have revealed that they are carrying out a “comprehensive search” of their systems for information about former Prime Minister Edward Heath.
The search is thought to include examining possible links Heath may had with Jimmy Savile and former Scarborough mayor Peter Jaconelli.
The former Prime Minister is known to have spent time with Leeds-born DJ Savile and ice cream company boss Jaconelli, who between them abused dozens of children in the seaside town.
Jaconelli and Savile were suspected of being involved in the abuse of 35 young victims as part of a paedophile ring operating in the resort but cheated justice.
A police investigation into Jaconelli, who died aged 73 in 1999, revealed last year that he would have faced a string of charges if he was still alive.
Jaconelli was pictured with Heath in the early 70s during a prime ministerial visit to Scarborough.
North Yorkshire Police said in a statement today that it was “not currently investigating any complaints linked to Heath”.
A spokesman said: “We are, however, undertaking a comprehensive search of force systems to assess if there is any information or intelligence held in relation to Mr Heath.
“Until this work has been completed, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Last year, North Yorkshire Police apologised to victims of Savile and Jaconelli after concluding that officers missed opportunities to properly investigate the two men over alleged child abuse when they were still alive.
In July, the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that a North Yorkshire Police officer had no case to answer for misconduct following his handling of an allegation of abuse against Jimmy Savile in Scarborough more than a decade ago,
The IPCC also has an independent investigation under way into how North Yorkshire Police handled a report received in October 2000 from a man alleging that, as a young boy in the early 1970s, that he was sexually assaulted by Peter Jaconelli at locations in the seaside town.
The force referred itself to the watchdog over whether any “information it held on record about Savile or his known associates” was properly passed to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary when this was requested in 2012.
Meanwhile, a judge said today that sex claims against Edward Heath played no part in the decision to drop a case against a woman alleged to have been running a brothel.
The case against Myra Ling-Ling Forde in the early 1990s did not proceed because of a lack of evidence, Judge Nigel Seed QC, the prosecuting counsel at the time, said.
A corruption inquiry was launched earlier this week after claims a defendant, later named in reports as Forde, had escaped prosecution after saying they would link Sir Edward to child sex claims.
In a letter to the Times newspaper Judge Seed refuted that suggestion, saying he wanted to “shed light” on the situation.
He explained that two of the three witnesses, all of whom were prostitutes, did not turn up to court, and the third refused to leave her cell to give evidence.
He said he had been told by police that the large number of reporters at the court that day were there because Forde, who had been on bail, had said she would allege she had provided rent boys for Sir Edward, should the case proceed.
In a statement released through her solicitor on Wednesday Forde insisted she had no involvement with the former prime minister and “no knowledge of any misconduct on his part”.
In his letter Judge Seed referred to the claims at the time as “nothing other than unsubstantiated assertions of a defendant in advance of a criminal trial”.
He added: “The decision for the case to proceed no further was mine and was based on the lack of evidence and had nothing whatsoever to do with any potential allegations against Edward Heath.”
Forde, 67, a Filipino, was later convicted on two separate occasions of offences related to running a brothel from a residential property in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
It emerged on Wednesday that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, which is led by Justice Lowell Goddard, will consider allegations against Sir Edward “should the facts justify it”.
At least five police forces are investigating claims involving Sir Edward, who is the most high-profile figure linked to historical paedophile allegations.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said: “Staff from Operation Hydrant are working closely with relevant forces to assess the extent of reported information concerning the late Sir Edward Heath, and at the conclusion of that process a lead force will be appointed to oversee the police investigations.”
Former friends and colleagues of the late politician have rallied to his defence.
The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said: “We welcome the investigation by Wiltshire Police, which we wholeheartedly believe will clear Sir Edward’s name and we will co-operate fully with the police in their inquiries.”
Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, died at home in Salisbury aged 89 in July 2005.