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The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

StonehouseCabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... information. He was acquitted. Frolik also named a Labour minister, the postmaster general, John Stonehouse – who, he said, had been recruited in the late 1950s after being compromised by a homosexual honeytrap on a trip to Prague. Instead of having Stonehouse prosecuted, Harold Wilson asked him to the Number ...


Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... able junior minister Niall Macdermot out of office. They even circulated the fantastic notion that John Stonehouse, whose long career in the Co-operative Movement was dedicated to witch-hunting Communists, was a Communist agent. These three stories are told in detail here for the first time. David Leigh asserts that they were part of a pattern of ...


John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... which it represents is quite remarkable. If Jeffrey Archer embodies rebounding success, John Stonehouse’s book breathes failure. Stripped down, Ralph is the story of a successful politician who grows restless with his good life, gets into a terrible pickle, assumes a false identity, escapes and comes to a disastrous end. It’s not, one might ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... in which Powell pays tribute to the ‘insight’ and ‘courage’ of his fellow Black Country MP John Stonehouse, soon to become postmaster general and then regarded as a coming man in the Labour Party, perhaps even a future leader. Stonehouse had denounced as ‘a canker’ the campaign by local Sikh bus conductors ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... well before Wright. Homosexual smears were directed against Edward Heath, Jeremy Thorpe, Norman St John Stevas and Humphrey Berkeley; bogus bank accounts (showing corrupt earnings) were contrived for Edward Short and Ian Paisley; Wilson was seen as the beneficiary of, and a possible participant in, the assassination of Hugh Gaitskell; lists were drawn up of ...

Other People’s Mail

Bernard Porter: MI5, 19 November 2009

The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 
by Christopher Andrew.
Allen Lane, 1032 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 7139 9885 6
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... in many of the events it became involved with over the last 50 years – the Profumo affair; the John Stonehouse mystery; Peter Wright; a score of famous spy cases; the Northern Ireland conflict; the miners’ strikes; the Gibraltar shootings; the Lockerbie bombing; ‘Room 101’; the thrilling escape of the defector Oleg Gordievsky; the killing of WPC ...

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