A POLICE investigation into allegations of child abuse made against former prime minister Sir Edward Heath is expected to end in the autumn.

The Wiltshire Police probe - Operation Conifer - was launched in 2015 after Sir Edward was named as a suspect in an investigation into historical child sex abuse.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission launched a probe into alleged historical corruption after information from a retired officer raised concerns that Wiltshire Police deliberately caused a criminal prosecution to fail in 1994.

Wiltshire Police has been criticised publicly for the investigation.

A force spokesman said: "Operation Conifer has now entered its final stages and is expected to come to an end in the autumn, assuming no further information comes to light that would change that position.

"From the outset, Wiltshire Police has been clear that at the end of the investigation, a summary report will be placed into the public domain to ensure transparency, accountability and openness.

"The report will be published in line with national guidance.

"Until such time as the report is published, the investigation remains live and Wiltshire Police will not be commenting further on any investigative detail."

In April, the force said two people who had been arrested in connection with child protection issues had been released without charge.

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

Sir Edward, who led the Conservative government between 1970 and 1974, died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.

In December, the chief constable of Wiltshire Police, Mike Veale, wrote a public letter to "set the record straight" about the investigation.

He described the former Conservative prime minister as an "extremely prominent, influential and high-profile person" and said the decision to undertake the "incredibly complex and challenging investigation" was "not taken lightly".

Mr Veale said the probe was "complex and multi-stranded" and was "not a fishing trip or witch hunt".

He stressed he took his responsibilities of operational independence "very seriously" and said he would not be "buckling under pressure not to investigate or to conclude the investigation prematurely".