first_imgTeri Pengilley He added: “As far as I’m concerned I worked very closely with Edward Heath for a number of years and I never had the slightest indication that there was anything inappropriate about his behaviour, and I’m horrified to think that the police have continued to try to dig up things about something which I think is totally false.”Sir Richard Needham, who served as a Tory MP between 1979 and 1997 and was a close friend of Sir Edward, said: “This feels like it is becoming very political as far as the police are concerned. This has been a smear from day one.“This is a man who has been dead for more than ten years and for the ten years before that was incapable of doing anything.“This is traducing the reputation of an extraordinary man who served his country with great distinction.” I think most people would say that this is very unfair , and not in keeping with the principles of the English legal systemLincoln Seligman Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Wiltshire police have been accused of cynically smearing the reputation of Sir Edward Heath in order to fend off mounting criticism of its long running child abuse probe.Friends of the former Prime Minister described the timing of an announcement that two people had been arrested as “suspect” and accused the force of playing politics in order to protect its own interests.Operation Conifer was launched in August 2014 to investigate allegations of paedophilia against Sir Edward, despite the fact he died in 2005.With the cost of the investigation spiralling to almost £700,000, critics had called for the probe to be shut down.But just days after Sir Richard Henriques published his damning report in the Metropolitan Police’s handling of VIP child abuse probes, Wiltshire Police announced it had made two arrests.The two suspects were understood to have been questioned and bailed several months ago and Wiltshire Police refused to give any further information about where the arrests had taken place or what they had been arrested on suspicion of. Sir Edward’s godson, Lincoln Seligman, said the investigation was in danger of stepping outside the principles of the English legal system.He told the Daily Telegraph: “The timing of this announcement is clearly suspect. The arrests ,which happened months ago  , may well have emerged from  the broader investigation into Edward Heath . But the police do not say whether  there is an actual connection between the arrested individuals and Edward Heath. Their silence now is rather ironic given their ill-considered  broadcasts to all and sundry at the beginning of this business.“This continued obfuscation by the police in not revealing what they know, even if it would have no adverse impact on the investigation or potential prosecutions,  is continuing to damage  Heath’s reputation .“I think most people would say that this is very unfair , and not in keeping with the principles of the English legal system.”Lord Aldington, whose father was a close friend of Sir Edward, and who knew him from childhood, also questioned the decision of the police to appeal for “victims” to come forward.He said: “The way this investigation began with the appeal outside Arundells was reprehensible and not up to the standards one expects in British policing.“Once can’t criticise the force for investigating allegations, but one can question whether they are doing so with an appropriate measure of proportionality, speed and scepticism.”center_img Lincoln Seligman, Sir Edward Heath's godson, has questioned the police investigation Lincoln Seligman, Sir Edward Heath’s godson, has questioned the police investigationCredit:Teri Pengilley Teri PengilleyCredit:James Jackson Sources at Wiltshire Police admitted that the decision to release the information about the arrests had been done to “reassure the public”, amid mounting criticism of the investigation’s progress.But supporters of Sir Edward said such tactics were serving to further traduce the reputation of a man who had served his country with distinction and who deserved better.Lord Prior, one of the last surviving members of Heath’s cabinet, said: “There are a number of us who are very, very upset about it and we think that the police have better things to do than this – it’s utterly ridiculous.“I just hope that the police can be brought to their senses and told to just leave it alone.”last_img