The sickest Establishment cover-up of all: How ‘the great and the good’ let Jeremy Thorpe get away with sex abuse… and gave a green light to monsters like Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile
By TONY RENNELL FOR THE DAILY MAIL
30 July 2016
Sex, lies and a murder plot hatched in Westminster. The Thorpe affair was the trial of the century, and — as John Preston’s devastating new book, A Very English Scandal, sets out in forensic detail — subject to a poisonous cover-up that infected nearly every corner of the British Establishment, with monstrous consequences…
The darkly handsome but rather disturbed-looking young man strode into the Chelsea police station and announced that he had come to report a serious offence.
He’d had homosexual relations with a prominent politician, which, back then in 1962, was a criminal offence.
And as he was under 21 and a minor at the time, what had taken place was technically rape.
A detective inspector and a sergeant noted down the graphic physical details he gave — when, where (at the accused’s mother’s home in Surrey and in a hotel in Devon), the Vaseline and Kleenex that had been used and how he had bitten the pillow to stop himself screaming out in pain.
He liked the other man, he confessed in a six-page statement, but ‘I hated doing it. I felt sick’.
He handed over love letters from the politician. He was examined by a doctor, who confirmed that penetrative sex had recently taken place. Norman Scott then left the station, and the two police officers sat pondering what to do next.
There was no doubt that what they had heard was evidence of a criminal offence. But the culprit named by Scott was a prominent public figure — no less than the flamboyant and hugely popular Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe, an increasingly impressive figure on the political stage and, then aged 33, clearly destined for greater things.
Should they delve deeper and risk infuriating a man whose friends in high places meant he wielded considerable influence? Or should they wash their hands of the whole business?
Predictably enough — as author John Preston writes in his book A Very English Scandal, a new and scintillating account of the Thorpe affair — ‘self-preservation won the day’.
They made a few cursory inquiries among police in Thorpe’s North Devon constituency, then sent their file to Scotland Yard. From there it was passed on to Special Branch and copied to MI5, which kept files on all MPs.
Despite Thorpe’s homosexuality making him liable to blackmail and therefore a possible security risk, Special Branch also chose to take the path of least resistance.
The file was locked in a safe in the office of an assistant commissioner. The cover-up of the bizarre and criminal antics of Thorpe had begun.
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