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  • Location: London

A Very English Scandal

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1960s: The shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for murder

  • ISBN: 978-0241973745
  • Genre: Biography/memoirs, Historical, Non-Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

It’s the late 1960s homosexuality has only just been legalised. It was still very much a subject best avoided or hidden under the carpet however and certainly in the corridors of power. However Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party, has a secret he’s desperate to hide – his beautiful, unstable lover Norman Scott. As long as he’s around, Thorpe’s brilliant career is at risk. So,  Thorpe schemes, deceives, embezzles – until he can see only one way to silence Scott for good.

Illuminating the darkest secrets of the Establishment, the Thorpe affair and the subsequent trial revealed such breath-taking deceit and corruption in an entire section of British society that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true. It was the moment the British public discovered the truth about its political class.

Travel Guide

The Thorpe affair

In December of 1968, Jeremy Thorpe asked his close friend, MP Peter Bessell, to attend a meeting with an assassin as part of a plan to murder Norman Scott. Norman had been John Preston’s lover but at a time where homosexuality had just been legalised, it was still not accepted amongst many people and certainly not those in power. If someone in power turned out to be gay, then that was quite a different matter. Gay men were persecuted and high- profile gay men even more so.

The trial at the Old Bailey

This trial shocked the nation and not because of the gay scandal. The trial of the politician at the old Bailey in London was the first time a leading British politician had stood trial on a murder charge, and the first time a murder plot had been hatched in the very place at the heart of UK democracy!

Thorpe worked at the heart of the UK government and was due to work at the heart of a new coalition government. The murder plot was the worst of the accusations but in the trial, there was an awful lot of dirt and dirty laundry which came out such as his involvement in embezzling and philandering on a grand scale. What was even worse was that the entire matter showed just how much the government closed ranks when one  of their own was on the block. Not to mention the lengths they went to protect their own and cover their tracks, even getting the police involved. There were many glaring mistakes made at trial and the sheer incompetence of many politicians efforts to hide any kind of evidence is just laughable.

It’s a scandal at the highest level of power and unbelievable that so many people tried to cover this up for so long.

Booktrail Boarding Pass: A Very English Scandal

Author/Guide: John Preston  Destination: London  Departure Time: 1960s

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