The police chief investigating claims of paedophilia against the late British Prime Minister Edward Heath is reportedly "120%" convinced that the allegations are true, according to a Sunday newspaper.
More than 30 people have now come forward to make claims against Heath, who died in 2005, according to The Mail on Sunday (MoS). Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale is expected to publish a report in June.
A source told the MoS: "Mr Veale believes in them 120% and thinks they are totally convincing. There are very close similarities in the accounts given by those who have come forward. The same names used for him, the same places and same type of incidents keep coming up.
"What stands out is that the people giving these accounts are not connected but the stories and the details dovetail. It contains disturbing stuff. Investigators have been shocked by what they have learned."
Veale has come under pressure to call off the Heath probe, named Operation Conifer, after the Metropolitan Police's botched inquiry into the so-called Westminster VIP paedophile ring came to an ignominious end.
Earlier this week it was reported that three high-profile victims of unfounded abuse allegations are suing the Met for a combined £3m ($2.42m) after being identified as targets of Operation Midland. Among the claimants are former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor and retired military chief Lord Bramall.
The widow of Lord Brittan is also believed to be considering mounting her own case against the Met after her husband died in the midst of widely reported allegations of paedophilia that later turned out to be unsubstantiated.
Another source told the MoS: "The police were initially sceptical about the allegations, but now believe them. And they have come round to the view that they were covered up in the past because of who Heath was.
"They will not be deflected by the rich and powerful trying to do the same now. Mike Veale is doing a great job and should be congratulated for his courage."
The MoS also reports that a key plank of Heath's defence – that he could not drive – is untrue. It had previously been claimed that the ex-prime minister would have been unable to carry out any malicious sex crimes because he was chauffeured at all times.
But photographs appearing to show him driving have emerged, the newspaper claims.
In a statement Wiltshire Police said they would not be commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation. In December 2016 Veale said: "It is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our Criminal Justice System… we will not be commenting any further on the detail of this case until such time [as] it has concluded. "