EXCLUSIVE: Sordid tales were kept out of Jeremy Thorpe’s murder trial
EXPLOSIVE sex claims about former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe were kept out of his trial for the attempted murder of ex-male model Norman Scott.
Published: 00:01, Sun, December 7, 2014
Thorpe’s trial gripped nation with its claims
The deal was made between the prosecution and Thorpe’s celebrated defence barrister George Carman QC and it prevented shocking and lurid details emerging during the 1979 trial, said the lawyer’s son Dominic.
He also told the Sunday Express that Thorpe, who died last week aged 85, had helped to cover up fellow Liberal MP Cyril Smith’s sexual abuse of children.
Thorpe was worried those allegations would further harm his own reputation, already in tatters over the alleged murder bid.
Mr Carman, who still has his late father’s entire trial brief, said: “What is in the prosecution evidence is a substantial amount of information from a lot of different men, which confirms that Thorpe was, to quote the phrase of the 1970s, a ‘promiscuous homosexual’.
“The relevance of that was to prove he was that way inclined because he had always denied it.
“My father struck a deal with the prosecuting barrister that none of the evidence would appear in court if Jeremy Thorpe admitted to having ‘homosexual tendencies’.
“He admitted that and there fore this whole pile of evidence was never submitted as it was deemed irrelevant.
“Some of it would even now be viewed as being pretty strong stuff.”
The trial still gripped the nation with claims of secret affairs, murder and revenge.
Thorpe was, to quote the phrase of the 1970s, a ‘promiscuous homosexual’
He was accused of murdering Norman Scott for threatening to uncover their alleged relationship.
He was said to have hired a hitman to kill Scott but the contract killer instead shot dead Scott’s dog, Rinka.
Days before the Old Bailey trial in May 1979, allegations that Smith was a predatory paedophile who preyed on young boys surfaced in the Rochdale Alternative Press and later Private Eye.
Mr Carman said not only had Thorpe been well aware of the allegations, he actively took steps to make sure they were stifled.
He instructed the establishment’s chief fixer, lawyer Lord Goodman, to ensure the claims were never followed up by the national press to avoid being tarred with the same brush so close to standing trial.
Mr Carman said: “Thorpe was concerned and a discussion about Cyril Smith was had.
“Although it wasn’t immediately relevant to the case if it had got wider currency and been published by the national press of the time, that would have potentially created much further prejudice against Thorpe because it would imply they’re all at it.
“Smith and Thorpe had nothing in common whatsoever and absolutely loathed each other but, of course, as is often the case in politics, they had to work together.
“Lord Goodman, who was a general fixer and worked on behalf of both Harold Wilson when he was prime minister in the early 1970s and indeed Thorpe, was instructed to stop any further reporting of this by the national press and it worked.”
Thorpe emerged from the 31-day trial victorious but his political career never recovered and he lost his North Devon seat in the 1979 general election.
He died on Thursday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease