A lawyer representing abuse victims on the island of Jersey has said it was widely believed that Edward Heath was “implicated” in child sex abuse on the island – but that making a solid case against him was “like pinning down a jellyfish”.
Police in Jersey have confirmed that Sir Edward “does feature” in an ongoing inquiry into decades of abuse on the Crown dependency, making them one of five forces investigating allegations against the former Tory Prime Minister.
Leah McGrath Goodman, a respected US journalist with Newsweek, has said she was banned from the UK for two years after she tried to investigate allegations of abuse surrounding Sir Edward in 2011. The UK Border Agency has said her ban was unrelated to her work, according to the Daily Mail.
A financial reporter, she was researching Jersey’s function as a tax haven when, she says, she heard about the growing scandal and the island’s “culture where people were much more likely to look the other way”.
She told Sky News: "[Police officers investigating claims at the children's home] had heard the rumours and I know a few of the senior members of the police believed that [Sir Edward] was at it.
Among those who regularly visited the Haut de la Garenne home was the now-disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile. “Jimmy Savile often stayed in the same hotel as Ted Heath,” McGrath Goodman told the dpa news agency, adding that both men were alleged to have taken children from Haut de la Garenne.
In the bleak days of March 2008, the world’s media gathered outside Haut de la Garenne, a forbidding and isolated former workhouse and children’s home on Jersey. Police were digging for possible human remains and other evidence after almost 200 former residents of the home alleged abuse, including torture and rape, by staff and visitors over many years, with claims that some youngsters had “disappeared”.
Allegations against Savile and other famous and powerful people were made during the 2008 inquiry. Another alleged abuser was the actor Wilfrid Brambell, the “dirty old man” of Steptoe and Son fame. One of two boys whom he abused in a back room at the Jersey Opera House in the Seventies was from Haut de la Garenne.
Savile chose his victims with great care; vulnerable and often troubled youngsters many in care homes. If they complained they were labelled troublemakers, or brutally put down. We know from court cases and statements made during the 2008 inquiry that children in Jersey care homes were 'loaned out’ to members of the yachting fraternity and other prominent citizens on the pretence of recreational trips but during which they were savagely abused and often raped.
When these children complained they were beaten and locked in cellars at Haut de la Garenne, which the Jersey authorities denied existed in 2008, but which can still be seen on YouTube footage.
A dig at the home was discredited, supposedly having found nothing, but the investigators admit that at least three human bone fragments were found and children’s teeth, from between 10 and 65 children of all ages.