SIR Edward Heath would have been question over historic sex allegations if he were still alive, Wiltshire Police said today.

Operation Conifer ended on August 31 after two years and a total cost of £1.5 million.

Today Wiltshire Police issued a statement saying: "The investigation, the available evidence and information gathered was considered, and the following conclusions have been made:

"In the case of seven individual disclosures, if Sir Edward Heath had been alive today, it has been concluded that he would have been interviewed under caution in order to obtain his account in relation to the allegations made against him.

"No inference of guilt should be drawn by the decision to interview under caution.

"The account from Sir Edward Heath would have been as important as other evidence gathered as part of the wider investigation.

"None of the victim disclosures in this category relate to the time when he was the serving Prime Minister.

"In the case of 19 individual disclosures, it has been concluded that there is undermining information available, such that the threshold to interview under caution would not be met.

"In the case of three disclosures, the persons reporting alleged abuse have subsequently concluded that they were genuinely mistaken in naming Sir Edward Heath as the perpetrator.

"In the case of 10 disclosures, the alleged abuse was reported by a third party, and in the case of another three; the victim reported the alleged abuse anonymously. In the case of these respective disclosures no findings have been concluded."

Operation Conifer was a national investigation, led by Wiltshire Police on behalf of the National Police Service, into allegations of non-recent child abuse made against Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974. He died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.

None of the allegations about which Wiltshire Police would have questioned Sir Edward relate to when he was prime minister, the force said.

The Crown Prosecution Service has a policy of not making a charging decision on a suspect who is dead because they cannot be prosecuted and the disclosures made against Sir Edward related to alleged offences of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse against an adult. .

The allegations he would have been questioned over include rape of a boy aged 11, indecent assault of a 10-year-old boy and the indecent assault of a 15-year-old boy during three "paid sexual encounters", and are said to have occurred between 1961 and 1992 in the Met Police, Kent, Sussex, the Channel Islands and Wiltshire force areas.

Wiltshire Police said it carried out an impartial and thorough investigation in line with national guidance from the College of Policing, which states that there is a legal duty for police to proportionately investigate criminal allegations made against deceased persons.

Friends and colleagues of Sir Edward have said he was "completely asexual" and the child sex abuse allegations were "totally uncharacteristic and unlikely".

Lord Hunt of Wirral, chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, and Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, former Cabinet Secretary, said in a statement: "The Wiltshire Police report is profoundly unsatisfactory because it neither justifies nor dispels the cloud of suspicion."

Operation Conifer had four clear distinct objectives, say Wiltshire Police:

•        To identify and safeguard children and vulnerable adults who may be at risk of abuse today
•        To seek to establish the facts concerning allegations of child abuse made against Sir Edward Heath through an objective and proportionate investigation
•        To identify and where possible bring to justice, any living person who may have committed criminal offences relating to child abuse or associated cover up
•        To attempt to provide public confidence in the police response to the allegations that were made

"During a period of two years, Operation Conifer received 42 disclosures relating to 40 separate individuals," said a force spokesman.

"The disclosures made covered 14 different police force areas in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.

"The disclosed offences spanned from 1956 to 1992, and each was alleged to have occurred whilst Sir Edward Heath was a publicly elected member of parliament.

"For each of the 42 disclosures that were alleged against Sir Edward Heath, a proportionate investigation was undertaken," said the spokesman.

"It is important to state that the role of the police in a criminal investigation is not to reach a conclusion as to the likely guilt or innocence of a person who is subject to allegations. Therefore, the findings in the report published today do not state whether Sir Edward Heath was guilty of any criminal offences or comment on the prospect of a successful prosecution had he been alive today. 

"The investigation has been subject to scrutiny throughout from a panel of independent members of the public whose role it was to check and test the decision making and approach of the investigation team. 

"It was also the subject of a ‘value for money’ review from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC), which concluded there was strong governance and strict financial controls in place. Operation Hydrant, the national co-ordinating body carried out two reviews on Operation Conifer, which concluded that a process of continuous review was in place in relation to proportionality and justification, that the national advice was being followed and that the investigation had been conducted in a manner consistent with the application of the principles of legitimacy and proportionality." 

Operation Conifer has been controversial ever since it began when a senior police officer made a television appeal outside Sir Edward's former stately home, Arundells, urging potential victims to come forward. That officer, Superintendent Sean Memory, has since been signed off work on long-term sick leave.

Last year, the probe found no evidence that a prosecution against brothel keeper Myra Ling-Ling Forde was dropped because of threats to allege publicly that Sir Edward had been involved in sexual offences.

In November, Dr Rachel Hoskins, who was enlisted by detectives to examine evidence, said she had "exposed a catalogue of fabrication" at the heart of the probe and warned the force it should immediately end its investigation into a key accuser's "pernicious" claims of satanic ritual abuse.

In a statement following the report's release, Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale said officers have "gone where the evidence has taken us", whether it supported the allegations or not.

He said: "The report does not draw any conclusions as to the likely guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath.

"I am satisfied there are compelling and obvious reasons to investigate allegations made against Sir Edward Heath."

Mr Veale added that it would be an "indefensible dereliction" of his duties not to investigate those allegations. 

He said the total cost of Operation Conifer was £1.5 million with £1.1m coming from Home Office who deemed it "proportionate & reasonable".

The report revealed that there was "reason to suspect" two people may have "intentionally misled" the police by alleging that they were abused by Sir Edward.

"In the case of one of these disclosures, a live criminal investigation remains ongoing," the report states.

"In the case of the other, a criminal investigation was undertaken and an individual was formally cautioned for an offence of wasting police time after they admitted that they had misled the investigation by making three separate disclosures, where they had purported to be three different people."

Mr Veale said he did not believe there was a need for a judge-led review of the allegations.

"At this time I have heard no compelling reasons for such a review, therefore I'm not persuaded to follow this course of action," he said.

"This would neither provide value for money nor provide a legitimate outcome on the guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath."

He also said it was a "watershed moment" for those who made claims of a cover-up, with the investigation team concluding there was no evidence.

The report said three people were arrested in connection with the allegations, with two released without charge and one under investigation.

But it said: "There was insufficient evidence gathered to implicate anyone, either connected to Sir Edward Heath or otherwise, in criminal offences related to child abuse or any related cover-up."

Mr Veale added: "I want to send a specific message to those who have come forward as part of this investigation.

"I know it takes bravery and courage to do so. I hope that you feel we have listened to you, taken you seriously, and you have been treated with dignity and respect.

"People who are victims of abuse in the past, now or in the future, should be reassured. Reassured by the way in which Wiltshire Police has listened to victims and survivors and reassured that no matter who the alleged perpetrator of abuse is, we will take your allegations seriously. We will investigate, no matter how difficult that may be."

A spokeswoman for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said: "The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse made a formal request to Wiltshire Police to provide it with a copy of its report into Operation Conifer so that it could consider it as part of its Westminster investigation.

"In regard to the allegations concerning Sir Edward Heath, the inquiry will investigate whether there was any knowledge within Westminster institutions, and if so, what actions were taken."

An NSPCC spokesman said: “We urge anyone who has been abused in childhood to report it, however long ago it took place. 

"The effects of abuse can last long into adulthood and it’s imperative that anyone who has gone through such a horrific experience feels that they are going to  be taken seriously, and that they get any help they need.  A child’s experience of abuse must never dictate their future.”

Any adult seeking support or advice can contact the NSPCC Helpline for free at any time on 0808 800 5000.