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Prince and Pimp

Paul Foot, 1 January 1998

The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken 
by Luke Harding and David Leigh.
Penguin, 205 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 14 027290 9
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... Are we all bare-faced liars?’ The question came from Jonathan Aitken, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, in January 1994. It was put to the then editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston. The words ‘we all’ referred to Aitken himself, his wife Lolicia and his faithful Arab friend Said Ayas ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians v. the press, 22 July 2004

... of the most memorable libel cases of the last twenty years, Jeffrey Archer v. ‘Daily Star’ and Jonathan Aitken v. ‘Guardian’ and Granada, both politicians committed perjury, Aitken even cajoling his 17-year-old daughter to perjure herself, too. Characteristically, Lloyd reinterprets two famous cases of political ...


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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... Carman struck fear into the opposition. On hearing that the Guardian was being sued for libel by Jonathan Aitken, its editor, Alan Rusbridger, remarked: ‘We’d better get Carman before Aitken does.’ But Carman QC was never a libel expert and, like other converts to this specialist area of law, relied on a ...

Was it better in the old days?

Jonathan Steele: The Rise of Nazarbayev, 28 January 2010

Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Continuum, 269 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 1 4411 5381 4
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... long road to nation-building. Kazakhstan was the last of the 15 republics to declare independence. Jonathan Aitken is an unlikely candidate to write a book on this subject. Since emerging from prison after his conviction for perjury in 1999 he has written books about himself and other public figures who fell from grace: Richard Nixon, his former special ...

Short Cuts

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Remembering Paul Foot, 19 August 2004

... of justice (Kincora, Colin Wallace, Judith Ward); about ministerial sleaze and mendacity (Jonathan Aitken ‘was lying all right, but he was lying with such charm, verve and enthusiasm that he looked and sounded like a winner’); about the wrongdoings of the secret service; about the immorality of the press (‘No view on it,’ the Sunday Times ...

swete lavender

Thomas Jones: Molesworth, 17 February 2000

by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
Penguin, 406 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 14 118240 7
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... are as the hero of a satire. Hensher’s introduction begins with a neat reference to something Jonathan Aitken said before beginning his all-too-brief stretch in prison: ‘I’m sure I will cope. I lived through Eton.’ We are then told that the former Cabinet minister, ‘whether he knew it or not’, was ‘quoting Grabber, head boy of St ...

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

R.W. Johnson, 13 May 1993

Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... and productive in the post-war years’. This upside to the Nixon picture is much to the fore in Aitken’s adoring biography. It is a strange coming-together: Aitken, the hereditary Tory, born with a large silver spoon in his mouth, and the lower-class Californian Nixon, engaged all his life in a furious class struggle ...

Forever Krystle

Nicholas Shakespeare, 20 February 1986

Watching ‘Dallas’: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination 
by Ien Ang, translated by Della Couling.
Methuen, 148 pp., £10.50, November 1985, 0 416 41630 6
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... Sue Ellen’s name is not one to be taken lightly. In comparing her with a Mrs Hazel Pinder White, Jonathan Aitken brought on himself a legal action requiring him to kneel on the sand of Viking Bay, Broadstairs, and apologise publicly. JR’s wife, complained the plaintiff, ‘was nothing but a high-class prostitute who drank heavily and was a total ...


Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark, 5 August 1993

... the Financial Times were used by Clark and ‘my old friend and stand-by for many a dirty trick, Jonathan Aitken’ (currently Minister for Defence Procurement) as fodder for their own inspired gossip and intrigue. When Lord Young first threatened to become Secretary of State for Employment, Clark and Aitken leaked ...

Per Ardua

Paul Foot, 8 February 1996

In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... weapons in the Ministry of Defence and was now a director of James’s own company, BMARC, as was Jonathan Aitken who had close links to the Saudi Royal Family, and Stefanus Adolphus Kock, a leading British intelligence agent and Midland Bank consultant whose business was arms sales. At the time none of this worried James very much. ‘You got the ...

Newspaperising the World

Sadakat Kadri: The Leveson Inquiry, 5 July 2012

Dial M for Murdoch 
by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman.
Allen Lane, 360 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 603 9
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... say to members of Parliament: “Get on and do something about it.”’ The speaker was Jonathan Aitken, soon revealed as a seedy perjurer himself, whose misdemeanours, involving illicit hotel meetings with Saudi arms dealers, would come to light only because Guardian journalists used trickery to obtain his hotel bill and then refused to be ...

Thank God for Traitors

Bernard Porter: GCHQ, 18 November 2010

GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency 
by Richard Aldrich.
Harper, 666 pp., £30, June 2010, 978 0 00 727847 3
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... tizzy in 1973. But Heath didn’t last long. Twenty years later, the Treasury minister Jonathan Aitken dared to wonder what ‘real value’ to ‘British national interests’ there was in monitoring messages between Russian tank commanders in Chechnya. He didn’t last long either, but he did manage to clip £200 million off GCHQ’s annual ...

The Thing

Alan Ryan, 9 October 1986

Whitehall: Tragedy and Farce 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 256 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11835 2
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On the Record. Surveillance, Computers and Privacy: The Inside Story 
by Duncan Campbell and Steve Connor.
Joseph, 347 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 7181 2575 4
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... known as the case of the missing Freedom of Information Act) since the failed prosecution of Jonathan Aitken in 1971 is perhaps the best-known, but Ponting reminds us how many Home Secretaries refused an enquiry into how Timothy Evans came to be hanged for a murder he did not commit, and of the refusal by successive governments of both parties to ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!, 14 December 2000

Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... And at one point there is a mistress who needs paying off (£5000 is the agreed figure, although Jonathan Aitken considers this to be too much: ‘I should have offered her £4000 and the briefcase,’ he says). On the whole, though, we don’t feel that Clark is thoroughly committed to the path of rakishness. In these early, or earlier, diaries his ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... Everything about Mark is so rebarbative that it seems only natural that he would count Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer among his closer associates and that even those invited to his house found his rudeness to servants – and to his wife – so repellent, verging on outright cruelty, that they often took an instant and lasting dislike to ...

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