Jeremy Thorpe

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John Jeremy Thorpe (29 April 1929 – 4 December 2014) was a British Liberal politician.

Thorpe was born in South Kensington, London, the son of former Conservative Member of Parliament John Henry Thorpe. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Oxford. He was the MP for North Devon from 1959 until 1979. He was leader of his party from 1967 until 1976.[1]

In 1979 at the Central Criminal Court in London, Thorpe was acquitted of conspiracy to murder model Norman Scott.[1]

The Scott affair[change | change source]

In 1961, Norman Scott (b. 12 February 1940),[2] a former model, met Thorpe while working as a stable lad. He claimed that he and Thorpe had a sexual relationship between 1961 and 1963, when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain.

Enquiries led to Thorpe and three others being charged with conspiracy to murder Scott. During the investigation, an antique firearms collector, Dennis Meighan, confessed he had been hired by a representative of a person called "a Mr Big in the Liberal Party" to kill Scott for £13,500.[3][4] Meighan later claimed that his 1975 oral confession was significantly shortened when it was offered to him for signing: "I read the statement, which did me no end of favours, but it did Jeremy Thorpe no end of favours as well, because it left him completely out of it..." [3]

The judge's summing-up was widely criticised for its bias,[5] and it made headlines when he described Scott as "a crook, an accomplished liar ... a fraud". The four defendants were all acquitted on 22 June 1979. Dennis Meighan was never called to give evidence and remained silent until 2014, when he acknowledged his involvement and commented: "It was a cover-up, no question, but it suited me fine".[4]

The Scott Affair ruined Thorpe, who resigned as leader of the Liberal Party, and was defeated at the next general election in 1979.

Personal life[change | change source]

Thorpe was married to Caroline Allpass from 1968 until she was killed in a car crash in 1970.[1] The couple's son was born in 1969. Thorpe was married to pianist Marion Stein (1926-2014) from 1973[1] until her death.[6] Thorpe was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.[1] He died from the disease in London on 4 December 2014, aged 85.[7][8]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The downfall
  2. Freeman, Simon and Penrose, Barrie 1996. Rinkagate: the rise and fall of Jeremy Thorpe. London: Bloomsbury.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rosenbaum, Martin. "Jeremy Thorpe: Was there an establishment cover-up?". BBC News: UK Politics. The BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gallagher, Ian (6 December 2014). "I was offered £13k to kill Jeremy Thorpe's stable boy love... says firearms collector who supplied gun that killed Norman Scott's dog". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  5. Carman, Dominic 2002. No ordinary man: a life of George Carman. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  6. Marion's obituary
  7. "Jeremy Thorpe dies after a long battle with Parkinson's". Daily Telegraph. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  8. "Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe dies". ITV News. 4 December 2014.