Special Branch 'threatened me over Ted Heath dossier'
- UK journalist says officers took details provided by Labour Peer Barbara Castle away before they could be published
- Dossier allegedly shows Ted Heath took children on board his yacht in Jersey
- Seven police forces, including Jerseys States police, are investigating claims of historical abuse against the former Conservative PM
A CHILD abuse dossier allegedly showing that former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath took children on board his yacht in Jersey was seized by Special Branch officers before it could be published, an investigative journalist has claimed.
Don Hale, a regional and national newspaper reporter who was made an OBE in 2001 for his investigative journalism, claims he was handed a document by former Labour Peer Barbara Castle in the 1980s naming a number of high-profile UK political figures as paedophiles.
But he alleges that after making initial inquiries, a team of Special Branch officers visited his home and seized the material – and warned him that reporting on the dossier could land him in jail.
Mr Hale says that in the document was a cutting from a magazine aimed at teenagers in which Sir Edward advertised 'adventure trips with Uncle Ted' around Jersey on board his yacht.
Seven police forces, including Jersey's States police, are currently investigating claims of historical abuse against the former Conservative PM, who died in 2005 aged 89.
It emerged yesterday that Gloucestershire and Thames Valley were the latest forces to be looking into allegations.
Mr Hale – best known for his successful campaign to overturn the conviction of Stephen Downing, who spent 27 years in prison after wrongly being convicted of murder – said that the dossier was extensive.
The 63-year-old, who developed strong contacts with Baroness Castle, who died in 2002, when he was editor of the Bury Messenger and she was an MP for Blackburn, said: 'We used to meet up every Friday.
'She started talking to me about this paedophile ring and she gave me a document listing some names.
'She kept bringing me more and more names on a list of alleged paedophiles.
'Then one day she showed me a picture of Ted Heath.
'She threw it down on my desk and said, do you know who this is? I said, of course I do. And she told me he was part of this paedophile ring.
'He was just one name and he seemed to only play a small part.'
Mr Hale added: 'One day Baroness Castle showed me a cutting about an adventure trip for boys in Jersey.
'It was a quarter of a page, and I think it was in a Scouting magazine or a magazine aimed at boys.
'She drew a red ring around the feature. It said something like, ''Join Uncle Ted on a trip of a lifetime''.
'She said it was disgusting. On its own it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. But with the other stuff she had showed me about Ted Heath, the inference was that he was using it to abuse boys.
'She said the children were from care homes.'
Mr Hale, who also successfully campaigned for the release of Barry George – a serial criminal wrongly jailed for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando – said that as the trips would have happened many years after
Sir Edward left office in 1974, it was unlikely that he would have had full-time protection which would have prevented him being alone with children.
Mr Hale added: 'Baroness Castle wanted me to run a story on this. I said I would be prepared to look at it, but obviously back then it was difficult.'
He said that the day after making calls to a number of civil servants and politicians, the late Liberal Democrat MP Cyril Smith –who has been implicated in numerous historical child sex offence allegations since his death – arrived at his house and demanded that he drop all investigations.
Mr Hale claims that he was then visited by Special Branch officers, who seized the dossier.
'They arrived at my house and ransacked my desk and took all the documents.
'They said that if I did anything I could face two years for perverting the course of justice.
'When I told Barbara of this, she was very matter-of-fact and said something like, "I thought that might happen".'
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