Edward Heath 'was not a sexual being', says closest female friend

Sara Morrison lunched weekly with the former prime minister and was his confidante

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of former Prime Minister Sir TedEdward Heath's closest friends has come to his defence following the news that at least seven police forces are looking into claims that he was a paedophile. Sara Morrison, often described as his closest female friend, has endorsed the view of another friend, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Armstrong, and of Heath’s biographer Philip Ziegler, that Heath, who died in 2005, had no interest in sex.

“I am mystified as to why this has all come up now, and from such diverse police forces, and am confident there is no substance to any of it,” sayssaid Mrs Morrison. “Ted was simply not a sexual being, simply not interested.” Mrs Morrison said she used to discuss with a friend if anybody could entirely lack sexual feeling, which her friend doubted. “I later asked Ted and he effectively said that he was sexless. I forget the actual term he used, but in saying that he seemed to be stating something we both knew didn’t need saying.”

Mrs Morrison, promoted by Heath from local government to vice-chairman of the Conservative Party in the early 1970s, often played host in later years when Heath had dinners at his house in Salisbury, and, as a weekly lunch companion at his house, appears to have filled a need in his life for someone with whom the often socially uncomfortable former PM would let his hair downcould relax. One person who knew them both well said she was “one of the only people with whom he could argue and laugh without restraint”.

Sara Morrison in the Sixties

“It is true that in the 1950s he came close to marrying Kay Raven, a Kent doctor’s daughter he had known for years,” she saysid, “but I was told she got fed up with waiting, and married someone else. I did once ask him if he ever slept with her and he grinned at me and said: ‘That is an indelicate question.’ When I persisted he just said ‘I’m not going to answer that’, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t.”

A number of Heath’s defenders have criticised the police decision to speak outside Heath’s home, arguably giving the impression of it being a crime scene. On Friday, Lord Armstrong said the investigations, if based on apparently insubstantial evidence, “should happen in private”. Mrs Morrison also expressed disquiet. “What does mystify me is why all this is appearing now. My concern is that the police, because of their failure to get to the bottom of things in the past, are over-compensating and making a show of taking every allegation extremely seriously, whether or not they believe the claims to be credible.

“That may be a defensible position, but I do feel that at some stage, if they find nothing, someone should be charged with clearing his name and indeed any others now dead and defenceless, against whom unfounded slurs have been made so publicly.

“I’m not saying nothing bad went on in this context, but it is grotesque to think that any innocent people have had/are having mud thrown at them and their memories forever tainted. If there is nothing there, surely they must be cleared.”