The reputation of a distinguished former prime minister of the United Kingdom has just been trashed in an extraordinary fashion.
In what looks like a sly attempt to justify its £1.5 million investigation into allegations against Sir Edward Heath, Wiltshire Police said that seven out of 42 sex abuse complaints against Sir Edward would have led to him being interviewed under caution.
But this is a highly misleading conclusion, that will be misinterpreted by millions of people as meaning that the one time prime minister was guilty of those offences.
Wiltshire Police was at pains to say that that was not its intention.
But why then did it not simply conclude that there was no strong proof against him?
Dozens of the other allegations that were made were found to have been wrong, in some cases impossible.
Thus it seems that the seven claims that would have led to him being questioned are merely claims that could not actually be ruled out.
This is a grotesque way to treat the reputation of any man who is dead, let alone someone who devoted his life to the nation – from commanding men in World War Two to governing the nation in the early 1970s.
It appears that no-one who was related to, friendly with or worked closely alongside Sir Edward ever noticed anything amiss about his conduct over the decades.
His friends are furious about the way the matter has been handled.
They are entirely right to demand a judge-led review of the police investigation into this saga.
Child abuse is a heinous crime. Across society and across organisations there is now a determination to stamp it out.
But to destroy someone’s reputation without justification is also a grievous wrong. We must now get clarity on whether that has happened in this instance.