VETERAN socialist Tony Benn has joined the fight to save the home of his old political adversary Sir Edward Heath from being closed to the public.

Mr Benn was a friend of the former prime minister.

The two men entered Parliament at the same time, in 1950, and Mr Benn visited Sir Edward at Arundells in the Cathedral Close many times.

Now he has given his blessing to the Friends of Arundells’ fight to stop the trustees selling the £6million Georgian property for private occupation.

Their campaign co-ordinator Tony Burnside said: “Tony Benn is a seasoned campaigner against injustice. We are delighted that such an important public figure has decided to back the public’s wish to keep Arundells open.”

The trustees have told the Charity Commission that selling the house is the only way to release money for good causes that Sir Edward wanted them to support.

But their chairman Lord Armstrong has denied that there was ever a deal to limit public access to the house to three years, despite a claim to the contrary by the Close Residents’ Association.

He told the Journal: “Nothing was agreed with residents as to what might or might not happen after the three years.”

The Friends are seeking a meeting with him to discuss a business plan for the house. But Lord Armstrong said the trustees are still in talks with the Charity Commission and there would be no point in a meeting until these are concluded.