A former brothel keeper has denied threatening to expose Edward Heath as a child abuser in order to escape prosecution.
Myra Forde, 67, who has been twice jailed for operating a brothel in Salisbury, Wiltshire – where Heath lived after leaving office – said she did not have “any knowledge” of misconduct by him.
A prosecution against Forde was dropped in 1992. On Monday, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was investigating claims that a trial was halted in the 1990s because it would have resulted in the exposure of the allegations about Heath. The IPCC said the claims originated from a former senior Wiltshire police officer.
In a statement released to the Salisbury Journal on Wednesday, Richard Griffiths, whose practice represented Forde in 1992, said: “My firm acted for Myra Forde in relation to the case which the prosecution discontinued on the day of the trial and which has been the subject of a great deal of speculation.
“My former client wishes me to make it very clear that at no stage did she state that Ted Heath was a client and at no stage did she threaten to expose him as a client of hers if the prosecution was continued.”
He added: “For the avoidance of any doubt Myra Forde wishes me to make it clear that she had no involvement with Ted Heath of any kind and has no knowledge of any misconduct on his part.”
Griffiths added that the case against her was dropped because of a problem with at least one prosecution witness.
He said: “It is my recollection assisted by discussion with my colleague who was at Winchester crown court on the day the case was discontinued and by the barrister we instructed to represent Myra Forde, that the prosecution had witness problems. In particular it may have been the case that one of the witnesses was at court in the cells and perhaps therefore not best inclined to assist the prosecution.
“The prosecution took what at the time seemed a sensible decision that they could not prove their case and offered no evidence. This decision would have been announced in open court and would be a matter of record.”
According to reports of her subsequent trial at Winchester crown court in 1995, Forde, originally from the Philippines, was alleged to have trained runaway children as sex workers from her property in Salisbury, less than a mile from Heath’s house. One 13-year-old girl would go straight from school to Forde’s brothel, which she called the Oriental Massage Parlour. Forde was jailed for six years.
She was caught again in December 2009, admitted inciting prostitution, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Forde recently moved to a home in a block of flats in north-west London. She told the Guardian she had “turned her life around” but was struggling financially with “only £10” in her pocket.
After the IPCC announcement this week, it emerged that at least five police forces have been investigating allegations against Heath. Wiltshire police appealed on Monday for potential victims and witnesses to come forward. The force said it had received a number of calls after issuing the appeal.
Kent police said it had received a new allegation against Heath on Tuesday. A statement said: “Kent police has today received a report of a sexual assault having been committed in east Kent in the 1960s. The victim has named Sir Edward Heath in connection with the allegation. Detectives are making initial inquiries and will obtain a full account from the victim.”
After Monday’s revelations, the Mirror reported a claim by an unnamed man that he was raped at age 12 by Heath, who died aged 89 in 2005. The alleged victim claimed he was picked up by the politician in a car on the A2 in north Kent, within the Metropolitan police area.
Scotland Yard said that it had assessed an allegation of rape against Heath in April but decided that there were “no lines of inquiry that could proportionately be pursued by the Met”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Have something to tell us about this article?