A Brief History of Political Scandals

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Here is a short
selection of some of the more notable political scandals to have
enveloped the British establishment in the last 40 years.

The Stonehouse

The scandal:
John Stonehouse was a Labour MP in the ’70s who became a minister
despite accusations that he was a spy for Czechoslovakia.

On 20 November
1974, a pile of clothes was found on a beach in Miami and he was
presumed dead.

However, it
later emerged that Stonehouse had faked his own death to escape
business debts and begin a new life with his mistress and former
secretary Sheila Buckley, whom he later married, in Australia.

He was caught
and extradited to England but, surprisingly, continued to sit as
an MP.

was tried on 21 charges of fraud, theft, forgery, conspiracy to
defraud, causing a false police investigation and wasting police

The outcome:
Stonehouse was convicted, resigned as an MP, and served seven
years in prison. He died in 1988.

The gay
Liberal, aka "Rinkagate"

The scandal:
The Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe was regularly the subject
of rumours that he was homosexual during the 1970s, at a time when
gay sex was still illegal in Britain.

Norman Scott,
a former male model, claimed to have had a homosexual relationship
with Thorpe and the comments led to a party inquiry which cleared
its leader but Scott continued to make his claims.

Then, in October
1975, Scott accepted a lift from a man claiming to have been secretly
assigned to protect him. As they drove across Exmoor, in Devon,
the man produced a gun and tried to shoot Scott but the Great Dane
he had with him, called Rinka, got in the way.

The former
model claimed in court that Thorpe had threatened to kill him and
the politician was later charged with conspiracy to murder.

Before he was
tried at the Old Bailey he lost his parliamentary seat in the 1979
General Election.

The outcome:
Thorpe found not guilty but was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s
Disease and retired from public life.

Archer: trials and prostitution

The scandal:
The then-Tory MP Jeffrey Archer was accused of having sex with
a prostitute by a newspaper in 1987. He brought a libel action and
won, getting £500,000 in damages.

Mr Justice
Caulfield had given a memorable description of Archer’s wife to
the jury, saying: "Your vision of her probably will never disappear.
Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the
strain of this trial, radiance?"

He had continued
of her husband: "Is he in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated
sex in a seedy hotel round about quarter to one on a Tuesday morning
after an evening at the Caprice?"

In 1999, it
was disclosed that the politician, who had by now been awarded a
peerage, had fabricated his alibi for the 1987 trial and he was
charged with perjury.

The outcome:
Lord Archer was jailed for four years but remains a peer and continues
to publish novels.

Cash for

The scandal:
MP Neil Hamilton was accused with fellow Conservative Tim Smith
of taking large sums of cash in brown envelopes from Mohamed Fayed,
the Harrods owner, to ask questions in the House of Commons.

Smith admitted
to the payments and resigned immediately but Hamilton protested
his innocence and launched a libel suit against The Guardian, which
had published the accusations.

The subsequent
furore became known as the "cash for questions" affair
but no police investigation was launched.

The outcome:
Hamilton dropped the case but was eventually forced to resign
as corporate affairs minister. Smith took no further part in politics.

the rest of the article

24, 2010

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