Penguin Books (UK) Viking
Description: In 1979, Jeremy Thorpe, the rising star of the Liberal Party, stood trial for conspiracy to murder. It was the first time that a leading British politician had stood trial on a murder charge. It was the first time that a murder plot had been hatched in the House of Commons. And it was the first time that a prominent public figure had been exposed as a philandering homosexual. With all the pace and drama of a thriller, A Very English Scandal is an extraordinary story of hypocrisy, deceit and betrayal at the heart of the British Establishment.
Opening: PART I: A Dinner at the House of Commons: One evening in February 1965, a man with a fondness for mohair suits, an unusaually wrinkled face and a faint resemblance to Humphrey Bogart walked into the member's dining room at the House of Commons. His name was Peter Bessell and he was the Liberal MP for Bodmin in Cornwall.
Take one callous homosexual rapist with eyes on Number 10 Downing Street, and you end up with this train wreck. If you could envisage the non-payment of NI employer contributions as the horse's nail:
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
Preston's biography of Thorpe also brushes up against the Profumo Affair, and we also come smack bang up against the paedophile Liberal MP from Rochdale, Cyril Smith.
On page 173, just when I thought the sleaze and hypocrisy could not become any worse we are treated to this eye-opening encounter:Thorpe decided to use some of MacKay's money on a new party political broadcast. He was keen that the party should engage with younger voters, and he cast around for a suitable format in which to put across his message. It's unclear who suggested that he should appear in front of an invited audience with the disc jockey Jimmy Savile, but it was an idea Thorpe eagerly embraced. [..] At one point a member of the audience asked if it was ever permissible to break the law in this country. Both men vigorously shook their heads. "I believe this country is a democracy where ther is no need to break the law," said Thorpe. "There are sufficient democratic outlets without having to do so." Savile nodded his agreement.
And on page 186, Johnny Savile:
Jimmy Savile wasn't the only member of his family with close Liberal connections: his older brother Johnny was standing as the Liberal candidate in Battersea North. Fifteen years after his death in 1998, Johnny Savile was accused of sexually assaulting mentally ill patients at the hospital in Tooting, where he worked as a recreation officer.
Jeremy Thorpe with Cyril Smith. Liberal party, police and MI5 concealed MP Cyril Smith's industrial-scale child abuse
Leo Abse - a white hat in a flouncy shirt who pushed for pro homosexual legislation
David Steel - please note, Mr Steel was nowt but a good guy. His picture here is because of how white he turned when he heard Mr Norman Scott tell his tale.
You have heard me regale at length before about the writing getting in the way of the story: Preston tells the story without curlicues to distract from the hideously breathtaking events; jounalism at its best. 'Just the facts ma'am' is what I crave and what was delivered. It seems entirely natural that this is the first read after the Panama Papers where I have to employ a money laundering shelf. Now I need to give my brain a scrub to rid myself of these corrupters of the common good.13.05.2015: Jeremy Thorpe: Inquiry into claims police altered evidencePolice to investigate 'suppressed evidence' from Jeremy Thorpe trial James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room