Historical Allegations:Operation Conifer - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:31 am on 18th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 11:31 am, 18th October 2018

No one could have done more to safeguard and defend the integrity and reputation of Sir Edward Heath than the noble Lord. On the Government’s role, the noble Lord, together with my noble friends Lord Hunt and Lord MacGregor, went to see the Home Secretary on 10 September. Their meeting lasted 40 minutes and they deployed, with all the force and eloquence at their disposal, their concerns and proposals for the Government to intervene. The Home Secretary said that he would reflect on it; he has previously overturned the decisions of his predecessors where he felt that the case was made. In this case, a month after that meeting and having taken advice, he wrote to the noble Lord on 10 October. He said: “I do not think there are grounds to justify review or intervention by Government”. He then set out his reasons. Unless something has happened in the past month, I do not believe that the Home Secretary will change his decision.

On the broader issues, I find it compelling that those who knew Sir Edward personally do not believe that there is one scintilla of truth in the accusations that were made. The noble Lord asked me to state from the Dispatch Box that in my view, had Sir Edward lived, the case would not have reached the level at which the CPS would institute a case. I hope that he, as a former Cabinet Secretary, will understand that it would not be right for a Minister to make such a pronouncement.