Dear Sir

E.S. Turner

  • The Henry Root Letters
    Weidenfeld, 156 pp, £4.50, March 1980, ISBN 0 297 77762 9

What does it cost these days to buy a knighthood or a life peerage? Henry Root, who claims to have made a fortune out of wet fish, applied to the Conservative Board of Finance to find out. ‘I read recently,’ he wrote, ‘that a “drop” of as little as £25,000 to one of our leading politicians was enough to obtain a seat in the Lords for the donor. Has inflation bumped up the price? Let me know. I’m waiting with my cheque-book ready.’ In reply, he received a cordial and unoffended letter from a major-general, addressing him as ‘Dear Mr Root’, explaining, ‘I think I must make it absolutely clear that there is no question of buying Honours from the Conservative Party,’ and saying he was ‘most grateful’ for the support extended to the Party by Root.

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