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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 JonathanAitken, 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 ...

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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... thrust on them. It was only after the USSR had broken apart that they gradually started on the long road to nation-building. Kazakhstan was the last of the 15 republics to declare independence. JonathanAitken 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 ...

Showboating

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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... Aid Board is willing to pay, he turned to the libel courts to make his fortune. There, the name of Carman struck fear into the opposition. On hearing that the Guardian was being sued for libel by JonathanAitken, 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians v. the press

22 July 2004
... Simpson wrote in his autobiography, which Lloyd quotes, ‘I would sue him and win.’) In two of the most memorable libel cases of the last twenty years, Jeffrey Archer v. ‘Daily Star’ and JonathanAitken 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 ...

Short Cuts

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Remembering Paul Foot

19 August 2004
... peculiar skill in getting – and keeping – the elected government over a barrel’); about miscarriages of justice (Kincora, Colin Wallace, Judith Ward); about ministerial sleaze and mendacity (JonathanAitken ‘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 ...

swete lavender

Thomas Jones: Molesworth

17 February 2000
Molesworth 
by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
Penguin, 406 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 14 118240 7
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... Tuesday and Thursday.) In fact, he displays a shockingly precocious intelligence. His real failings are as the hero of a satire. Hensher’s introduction begins with a neat reference to something JonathanAitken 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 ...
13 May 1993
Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... the Soviet Ambassador to the US was still singling out his term in office as ‘the most fruitful 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 ...

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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... of Defence Sales until he left to join the Board of Plessey. Lt Gen Donald Isles had been director of weapons in the Ministry of Defence and was now a director of James’s own company, BMARC, as was JonathanAitken 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 ...

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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... of JR’s lip-quivering wife, Sue Ellen – and the very same Sue Ellen. Both on screen and off, Sue Ellen’s name is not one to be taken lightly. In comparing her with a Mrs Hazel Pinder White, JonathanAitken 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 ...

Diary

Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark

5 August 1993
... Being impotent in office is ridiculous enough; reporting it is entirely trivial. Even papers like the Financial Times were used by Clark and ‘my old friend and stand-by for many a dirty trick, JonathanAitken’ (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 ...

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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... boys, pimps, bimbos, spurned lovers, smear artists bearing grudges, prostitutes and perjurers … constituents say to members of Parliament: “Get on and do something about it.”’ The speaker was JonathanAitken, 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 ...

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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... we take these to be the mother-and-two-daughters combo that came back to haunt him in his later years. And at one point there is a mistress who needs paying off (£5000 is the agreed figure, although JonathanAitken 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 ...

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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... in opposition which they then refuse when in power: the history of official secrets legislation (otherwise known as the case of the missing Freedom of Information Act) since the failed prosecution of JonathanAitken 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 ...

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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... that Mrs Thatcher greeted the news of the arrival of Mark’s first child with ‘We are a grandmother.’ Everything about Mark is so rebarbative that it seems only natural that he would count JonathanAitken 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 ...

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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... valuable’. That didn’t cut much ice with Heath, who continued to be obstructive, provoking Kissinger’s tizzy in 1973. But Heath didn’t last long. Twenty years later, the Treasury minister JonathanAitken 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 ...

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