WILTSHIRE'S top cop has again slammed "unhelpful and inappropriate" speculation over the Sir Edward Heath child sex abuse investigation.

Operation Conifer, the high-profile probe into allegations against the late former Prime Minister, has come under close scrutiny in recent months, with many calling for it to be scrapped.

Yesterday the Mail on Sunday quoted a source as saying chief constable Mike Veale believed in the allegations against Heath “120 per cent”.

Mr Veale has issued a response to the latest claims in which he says:

  • Speculation about the case is "unhelpful and inappropriate" and of "huge concern".
  • It could undermine trust and confidence in the police and prejudice a live investigation.
  • Comment without "possession of the facts" could damage reputation of Heath and the alleged victims.

Mr Veale previously responded to another Mail on Sunday story in December which reported that an expert investigator had branded claims of satanic ritual sex abuse against Heath as "fantasy" in an official report.

At the time, Mr Veale vowed "not to buckle" under pressure to axe the investigation and insisted it was not a "fishing trip" or a "witch hunt".

Mr Veale's open letter in full:

“On Friday 2 December 2016, I prepared and distributed an unequivocal open letter outlining the Wiltshire Police position in relation to the ongoing investigation into allegations made against Sir Edward Heath.

“This letter was written as a direct consequence further to unhelpful and inappropriate speculation about this case. However, this speculation continues and is of huge concern to me as I believe it will undermine trust and confidence in the police, have a potential prejudicial impact upon a live ongoing investigation, not to mention an impact upon the confidence of persons who have come forward with information.

“In my letter I made a number of points to provide absolute clarity about why Wiltshire Police is conducting this investigation. To reiterate, there is a clear legal requirement and supporting national policy from the College of Policing that I am required to undertake an investigation where allegations have been made, regardless of whether the alleged offender is living or deceased.

“In relation to the recent unhelpful speculation regarding the veracity of the allegations made, let me once again be clear, it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our Criminal Justice System. Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us. Further, those who choose to continue to make comment on this case whilst not in possession of the facts ultimately may serve to unfairly damage both the reputation of Sir Edward Heath and / or those who have disclosed abuse.

“At the end of my open letter I stated that I would not be making further comment about the investigation unless it was for operational policing purposes. Other than to provide clarity around a number of key points, my position remains unchanged.

“The operational security of this investigation and the anonymity of the people who have come forward remains of paramount importance to Wiltshire Police.”