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The Unsolved Mystery of the Money Tree

Anthony Howard: Jeremy Thorpe, 19 August 1999

In My Own Time: Reminiscences of a Liberal Leader 
by Jeremy Thorpe.
Politico’s, 234 pp., £18, April 1999, 1 902301 21 8
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... Jeremy Thorpe has long been the non-person of modern British politics. Never mind that 25 years ago he attained for the then stand-alone Liberal Party more votes (over six million) than Paddy Ashdown achieved for the by now merged Liberal Democrats (five and a quarter million) at the last general election. Discretion, if not sheer political cowardice, decreed that his faintly saturnine presence should be air-brushed out of any contemporary history of Britain’s third party ...
Jeremy ThorpeA Secret Life 
by Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May.
Fontana, 371 pp., £1.50
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... In one sense, as the advertising claims, this is ‘the only book to tell the full story of the Jeremy Thorpe affair’, for there is no other book that tells that story. Written by three journalists from the Sunday Times, it presents the existing state of knowledge, but tidied up and reduced to order, and with some ‘investigative’ embellishments probably added ...

The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe, 30 July 2015

Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... might have read like this. Although known for his charm, wit and talent as mimic and raconteur, Jeremy Thorpe will be chiefly remembered as the deviser of much of the programme of modern British liberalism, and the architect of one of its great periods of electoral success. The grandson and son of undistinguished Conservative MPs, ...

Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson, 3 April 1980

The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial 
by Auberon Waugh.
Joseph, 240 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7181 1799 9
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... Heh, heh!’ went the judge in the Thorpe trial, Mr Justice Cantley. According to Auberon Waugh, who sat in the press benches all through the six weeks of the Old Bailey proceedings, he made a habit of it: his own jokes, the floundering of witnesses, the incredible spectacle over which he was presiding, all presented matter for a good heh ...


John Upton: George Carman, 9 May 2002

No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman 
by Dominic Carman.
Hodder, 331 pp., £18.99, January 2002, 0 340 82098 5
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... took one of two top firsts in law, decided to become a barrister, and wrote his fellow law student Jeremy Thorpe’s tutorial essays in return for Thorpe’s help in drafting speeches for the Oxford Union – a curious prefiguration of what was to come. Carman also came top in his Bar school finals. It is an indictment ...

Crisis at Ettrick Bridge

William Rodgers, 12 October 1989

A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-88 
by Chris Cook.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £9.95, August 1989, 0 333 44884 7
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Against Goliath 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 318 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 9780297796787
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Labour’s Decline and the Social Democrats’ Fall 
by Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 46541 5
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by Annette Penhaligon.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0501 2
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Citizens’ Britain: A Radical Agenda for the 1990s 
by Paddy Ashdown.
Fourth Estate, 159 pp., £5.95, September 1989, 1 872180 45 0
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... and speak intelligently to a House which liked the man, but thought his party a joke. Then came Jeremy Thorpe, the flamboyant actor-manager, famous in private for his impersonations of Winston Churchill and in public for a taste for campaigning that seemed larger than his causes. It was Thorpe who helped his party to ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... notably during the 1979 general election. This was part of his ‘oblique, crablike’ pursuit of Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party. Allegations that Thorpe had hired a hit man to dispose of his former lover Norman Scott had been cropping up since 1975, nowhere more persistently than in Private ...

The Sovereign Weapon

Francis FitzGibbon: The Old Bailey, 5 March 2020

Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain 
by Thomas Grant.
John Murray, 448 pp., £10.99, April, 978 1 4736 5163 0
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... Grant devotes a chapter to the 1979 trial of another 20th-century chancer, the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who was tried for his role in the botched shooting of his blackmailer and former lover, Norman Scott. The press had long protected Thorpe – Grant describes him as the ‘beneficiary of a culture of ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Michael Foot, 25 March 2010

... West Country as late as 1970, as I discovered when in the general election of that year I fought Jeremy Thorpe in North Devon. By then Foot was long gone, to the valleys of South Wales, where a way with words is also appreciated. A short spell working as a clerk for a shipping company in Liverpool in the 1930s turned him into a socialist and drove him ...

Naked and glistening

Dan Jacobson, 3 April 1980

The Diamond Underworld 
by Fred Kamil.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £6.50, November 1979, 0 7139 1086 0
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... the bemused reader sees that among the names flashing past are those of Harold Wilson, Peter Hain, Jeremy Thorpe etc, who were supposed to be the targets of the ‘South African connection’. There the book ends, the author still asserting fiercely that justice has not been done to him. He is quite sure what ‘justice’ would be at every stage – as ...


William Rodgers: Party Conference Jamboree, 25 October 1990

... party, seldom expecting to be taken seriously and relying on a single performance by Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe or David Steel to give them whatever credibility they could earn. It was Labour that faced the real problem. Defeat for the leadership – often following a bitter row – saddled it with policies unacceptable to its own MPs and profoundly ...


Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... of being involved in a criminal conspiracy to murder Norman Scott, the friend of the Rt Hon. Jeremy Thorpe MP. It was a serious matter when a book by David Irving was read as suggesting that Captain Broome RN, the commander in 1942 of the destroyer escort of a wartime convoy taking supplies to Russia, had disobeyed orders and had been indifferent to ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... 11.7 million votes, Heath’s Tories got 297 seats on 11.9 million votes, and the Liberals led by Jeremy Thorpe found that their six million votes translated into 14 seats. The Liberals’ mini-revival suggested a solution to Heath’s predicament, and led him to enter into negotiations with Thorpe. The discussions ...

London Review of Crooks

Robert Marshall-Andrews, 15 July 1982

Rough Justice: The Extraordinary Truth about Charles Richardson and his Gang 
by Robert Parker.
Fontana, 352 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 00 636354 7
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Web of Corruption: The Story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith 
by Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor.
Granada, 282 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 246 10915 7
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Inside Boss: South Africa’s Secret Police 
by Gordon Winter.
Penguin, 640 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780140057515
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Crime in Wartime: A Social History of Crime in World War II 
by Edward Smithies.
Allen and Unwin, 219 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 04 364020 6
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... witness, only to turn hostile at Pretoria’s bidding in order to preserve his cover. He began the Jeremy Thorpe scandal, which he leaked to the People before the 1974 election. No less amazingly, he exposed the exploitation of Hong Kong workers in order to deflect attention from similar exploitation in South Africa. Winter’s commentary on the warped ...

Radical Democrats

Ross McKibbin, 7 March 1991

Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977-80 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 675 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 09 174321 4
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Words as Weapons: Selected Writings 1980-1990 
by Paul Foot.
Verso, 281 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 310 4
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... replied, wishing them success in their campaign.’ There is also a creditable reference to Jeremy Thorpe. It is obvious that Benn is personally a good-natured and generous-minded man. The reasons for his later campaign for the ‘democratic’ reform of the Labour Party can thus be easily defended: his experience of the 1974-79 Government has ...

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