SLEAZE: The list
Sunday 23 July 1995
'My Hon friend denies interpret- ation of remarks allegedly made by him'
Who was involved: Alan Clark, MP for Plymouth Sutton (until 1992) and Minister for Defence Procurement.
What happened: John Major had been Prime Minister for only three days when he found himself struggling with his first scandal. Leaked minutes from a discussion between Mr Clark and some machine tool manufacturers showed him advising them to phrase applications for licences to export machinery to Iraq in such a way as to emphasise its "peaceful purposes". This was nothing less than official encouragement to sidestep an international embargo on arms sales to Iraq. With the Gulf war about to begin, this caused uproar. Paddy Ashdown urged Mr Major to sack Mr Clark. The minister, however, denied "the interpretation put on the remarks" he made at the meeting.
The outcome: Clark kept his job, for the moment. But the affair had long-term consequences since it formed part of the wider arms-to-Iraq scandal that had begun earlier that year with the Supergun revelations.
Best headline: "The dishonourable member".
Damage rating: 2
2: Lamont's lodger April 1991
'One woman said: "She would not appear to be
the ideal neighbour" '
Who was involved: Norman Lamont, Chancellor of the Exchequer until 1993 and MP for Kingston upon Thames, and Sara Dale, a "sex therapist".
What happened: When Mr Lamont moved into 11 Downing Street after Mr Major became Prime Minister, he left vacant his Georgian house in Kensington. A letting agency subsequently found a tenant, Ms Dale, who provided "impeccable" references. Three weeks after she moved in, the News of the World alleged Ms Dale was providing sexual services at pounds 90 a time (she denied this). Ms Dale specialised in "correctional" services according to the newspaper, which printed a photograph of her reclining on a bed wearing only leather underwear and a broad smile.
Best headline: Tory Whip Shock
The outcome: Mr Lamont, employing the services of the top solicitor, Peter Carter-Ruck, had Ms Dale evicted post-haste, but the matter did not end there (see number X). It proved an early taste of Mr Lamont's luckless ways.
Damage Rating 1
4: David Mellor July 1992
'I'm sorry for him but he is paying the price for his indiscretions'
Who was involved: Mr Mellor, MP for Putney and Heritage Secretary until 1992; Antonia de Sancha, a sometime model and actress; a journalist in the garden outside, monitoring a telephone tap.
What happened: Mr Mellor, a married man and father of two who liked to be known as the Minister for Fun, was tape-recorded by the People newspaper discussing his adulterous affair with Ms de Sancha. The People's angle was that Mr Mellor's admission in conversation that their relationship left him "knackered", meant he was unfit to do the job the taxpayers were paying him for. Over the days that followed, the saga became increasingly lurid, particularly after some "friends" of Ms de Sancha told her version of the story.
Photographers were given guided tours of the small London flat where the two met, so we saw pictures of the rumpled mattress which was allegedly the scene of the action, and the open bottle beside it. There were stories of Mr Mellor wearing a Chelsea football shirt during sex (which was denied) and of erotic toe-sucking (which was not). The Press reported that relations with his wife's family soured - his father-in-law claimed that the minister had told him to stop talking to the Press or "you'll never see your grandchildren again".
As an additional dimension to the affair, Mr Mellor was the Cabinet minister with responsibility for the media, who had recently issued a warning that the tabloids were "drinking in the last chance saloon" after their many intrusions into the privacy of the Royal Family.
The outcome: Mr Mellor kept his job despite frenzied demands for his resignation. This he owed in part to the support of the Prime Minister, a close friend, who believed that the Press was using the affair to head off privacy legislation. The minister was also fortunate in the support of his wife, Judith, who famously posed for a family photograph with him, their children and her parents in the effort to save his career.
Best headline: "The Minister and the showgirl".
Damage rating: 3
5: Mellor II Sept 1992
'It is too much for colleagues to have to put up with a constant barrage of stories on me in the tabloids'
Who was involved: David Mellor; Mona Bauwens, a film producer; Elliott Bernerd, a property developer.
What happened: What Antonia de Sancha's "friends" failed to do for Mr Mellor, one of his own close friends inadvertently succeeded in achieving a few weeks later. The de Sancha affair was still much in the news when the Daily Mail published a report on the minister's links with Mr Bernerd, who provided a flat where Mr Mellor had met Ms de Sancha and also lent him a car. No impropriety was proved, however.
Then in September an unusual libel case opened in London in which Mrs Bauwens was suing the People over an allegation made two years previously. The newspaper had criticised Mr Mellor for accepting a holiday in Marbella, Spain, paid for by Mrs Bauwens while British forces were being sent to the Gulf. (Mrs Bauwens's father was a senior PLO figure, and the PLO was supporting Iraq.) She said the implication was that she was a "social leper".
Mr Mellor was not called to give evidence. However, it emerged during the case that the holiday in Marbella had lasted a month, that Mrs Bauwens had contributed around pounds 13,000 to the cost and that Mr Mellor had contributed very little. The official rules for ministers state that they should not "accept gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would, or might appear, to place him or her under and obligation".
The outcome: Mr Mellor resigned. On the backbenches he has thrived, with a string of consultancies and media jobs. His wife Judith divorced him. He set up home with Penelope, Lady Cobham, a former special adviser in the Heritage Department, in a pounds 1m Georgian house in London's Docklands, after she announced she was separating from her husband Johnny, the 11th Viscount Cobham.
Best headline: "Toe Job to No Job".
Damage rating: 4
6: Matrix Churchill Oct 92
'It's our old friend, being economical.' With the truth? 'With the
Who was involved: Three executives of the company Matrix Churchill; William Waldegrave; Sir Nicholas Lyell, the attorney general; Lord Trefgarne; Alan Clark; John Major.
What happened: The most calamitous scandal of all those in the Major years burst open when a prosecution collapsed at the Old Bailey. Three directors of the machine tools maker Matrix Churchill, among them the managing director, Paul Henderson, had been accused by HM Customs and Excise of supplying arms-related materials to Iraq.
Mr Henderson's defence was that the Government had in fact connived in the sales and that he had been keeping MI6 informed of what he was doing throughout. This was denied, but when the judge ordered the release of certain official documents to the defence, the case began to fall apart.
The coup de grace was administered by Alan Clark, by now out of Parliament, when he admitted during cross-examination that he had practised economy with the "actualite" in stating that certain equipment had been sold to Iraq for "general engineering purposes". There it was: the Government had deceived the public by giving its blessing to sales to Iraq of equipment even a minister knew could be used for warlike purposes. It had, moreover, supplied military equipment to a country which soon afterwards was at war with Britain.
The outcome: The scandal raged at maximum temperature until Christmas. Ministers stumbled over the question of whether the guidelines on exports had been secretly changed, which would have meant that there was one public position on sales to Iraq and a different private position.
If they were not changed, they were probably flouted. Mr Major, who had been both Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the relevant period, declared obscurely: "Something that I was not aware had happened turned out not to have happened."
The old questions, who knew what and when, and who was to blame, were passed to Lord Justice Scott to answer. Leaks from his inquiry have embarrassed William Waldegrave, the former Agriculture Secretary and now Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Lord Trefgarne and Alan Clark, the former minister for defence procurement, have also been singled out for criticism in leaked preliminary findings. All three are alleged to have deliberately misled MPs over the shift in policy on arms sales. The Prime Minister meanwhile has pledged that if the Scott inquiry shows that any minster deliberately misled Parliament, he or she will have to resign.
Best headline: "Major ducks arms-for-Iraq bombshell".
Damage rating: iiiii
7: Gagging Orders Oct 92
'I said up with this I will not put. I would not sign the certificate. I was ultimately persuaded it was my duty to'
Who was involved: Matrix Churchill directors; Kenneth Clarke; Malcolm Rifkind; Peter Lilley; Tristan Garel-Jones; Nicholas Lyell; Michael Heseltine; Kenneth Baker.
What happened: With the collapse of the Matrix Churchill trial, a second question begged to be answered: how was the case allowed to come to court?
Central to the answer was a group of documents called Public Interest Immunity certificates designed to allow ministers to withhold from the courts official documents or other evidence which they think might be harmful to the public interest. Usually, these are accepted by judges; in the Matrix Churchill case there was a whole raft of certificates from different ministers, and the judge eventually threw them out. These documents proved vital to the defence, particularly in extracting Mr Clark's confession of economy with the actualite, and they subsequently flooded into the public domain.
The documents, once disclosed, demonstrated vividly Whitehall's secretive and sometimes cynical ways. The Government, it seemed, had been prepared to allow the Matrix Churchill directors to go to jail even though it had known all along what they were doing. Six ministers signed the certificates: Clarke, Lilley, Rifkind, Garel-Jones, Baker and Heseltine. Bitter argument ensued about the legal status of the certificates and the freedom of ministers to refuse to sign them if they had been advised to do so.
The outcome: Lord Justice Scott will decide whether ministers acted unjustly or improperly. Mr Heseltine seems to be in the clear, since he told the Scott inquiry he signed only on condition that his reservations about signing were communicated to the judge, and they were not. Nicholas Lyell's defence of the P11 certificates at the inquiry was so feeble it was deemed to have damaged him badly.
Best headline: "Clark reveals how he helped equip Iraqis".
Damage rating: 5
8: Lamont's Bill Nov 92
'It started as a private matter but because of allegations, that I won't repeat, it reflected on me in office'
Who was involved: Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor; Peter Carter-Ruck, a libel lawyer; sundry Treasury officials; an anonymous benefactor.
What happened: When the then Chancellor evicted his unwelcome tenant, Sara Dale, from his Kensington home (see Number 2 above), he employed the services of Peter Carter-Ruck, the leading solicitor. In late 1992 it emerged from official documents that the bill for this work amounted to more than pounds 23,000, and that pounds 4,700 of this had been met from public funds, with the balance coming from an unidentified benefactor through Conservative party channels. Mr Lamont said: "These costs arose solely because of my public position as Chancellor of the Exchequer. None of the costs incurred in evicting my tenant were met from public funds."
The outcome Two Commons committees investigated these matters, and Mr Lamont was ruled to have been "unwise" in accepting the anonymous money.
Best headline: "What price a good reputation?"
Damage rating 3
9: Threshergate Dec 92
'I have not seen the receipt myself. I do not know whether the staff's recollection is correct'
Who was involved: Norman Lamont; David Newton and John Onanugu, employees of a Threshers off-licence.
What happened: Just as the story of his legal bill drifted from the headlines, Mr Lamont found himself back in the news again with the affair of his Access bill and the Threshers wine shop. It began when one of the tabloids got hold of details of the Chancellor's Access account and revealed not only that he was pounds 470 over his pounds 2,000 credit limit but that he had exceeded his limit 22 times in eight years. Amid much laughter about the Lamont Sector Borrowing Requirement, other papers pursued the matter of Mr Lamont's last transaction, at a Threshers off-licence in London. Journalists visited a Threshers branch and were told by Mr Newton and Mr Onanugu the Chancellor had come in on a Sunday
v evening and bought a bottle of Bricout champagne and a packet of Raffles cigarettes. These were portrayed as curious purchases. Mr Lamont declared that he had bought three bottles of wine at a different time and at a different branch. Eventually Threshers confirmed Mr Lamont's version, and produced a bill to prove it. Mr Newton and Mr Onanugu admitted the story was a "total fabrication".
The outcome: Mr Lamont demanded apologies from six newspapers. Mr Newton and Mr Onanugu lost their jobs at Threshers. Mr Onanugu, a Nigerian, was subsequently deported as an illegal immigrant. Officials insisted, however, that there was no connection whatsoever between Threshergate and his deportation.
Best headline: "Lamont: would you credit it?"
Damage rating: 1
10: Mates's watch June 93
'It was a misjudgement, but it is not a hanging offence'
Who was involved: Mr Michael Mates, a Northern Ireland minister; Asil Nadir, a Turkish Cypriot tycoon.
What happened: Polly Peck, the company created by Asil Nadir, was a stock market phenomenon of the 1980s, but in the 1990s it collapsed and Nadir was arrested. Legal wrangling followed, ending in Nadir skipping bail and flying to exile in Northern Cyprus.
At the end of May 1993 a small paragraph appeared in a Sunday paper reporting that Mr Mates, the number two in the Northern Ireland Office, had given Nadir a watch bearing the inscription: "Don't let the buggers get you down". It soon emerged that Mr Mates and several other MPs, including Michael Heseltine, had been lobbying the Attorney General - entirely legitimately - on Nadir's behalf. Mr Major declared the watch gift unwise, but "not a hanging offence".
Mr Mates's plight deepened when the issue became muddled with a separate scandal about secret donations to the Tory party (Nadir was a donor). His final mistake was to dine at the Reform Club with a Nadir aide, strengthening the impression that a Government minister was too close to a fugitive tycoon.
The affair had another dimension: Mr Mates subsequently stated that he believed Nadir was the victim of a plot by the security services, who were anxious about his influence in Cyprus. He also believed that the source of the leaks against himself was the Serious Fraud Office (the "buggers" of the watch inscription).
The outcome: The Reform Club dinner was the last straw for Downing St. Mr Mates had legitimately pursued the interests of a man he believed to have been wronged, but to continue the association in the heat of scandal, when that man (Nadir) was a fugitive from justice was too much. Mr Mates resigned.
Best headline: "Old soldier shot himself in the foot".
Damage rating: 4
11: Steven Norris Oct 93
'I don't believe he has behaved in an honest or an honourable way'
Who was involved: Steven Norris, Epping Forest MP and Roads Minister; Vicki, his wife and the niece of Cardinal Basil Hume; Sheila Gunn, political correspondent of the Times; four other women.
What happened: A string of revelations about the minister's affairs with at least three mistresses, some of them overlapping each other, following the break-up of his marriage. After leaving his wife Vicki, the minister had liaisons with surgeon Clare Marx, saleswoman Lynn Taylor, Ms Gunn and Emma Courtney, secretary to Henry Bellingham MP. Rumours of a planned engagement to Ms Jennifer Sharp, an executive at Harpers & Queen, were quashed in February 1994 when Mr Norris was reported to have gone back to Ms Courtney, whom he had previously dated while married and in a three-year relationship with Ms Gunn. His return to Ms Courtney's arms came after he had dispatched an intermediary to declare undying love to, and a desire for a rapprochement with, Ms Gunn. Her response was: "You must be joking".
The outcome: Mr Norris kept his cool and his head down and consequently kept his job. He was lucky that the news of his liaisons broke just days before Mr Major launched his Back to Basics campaign.
Best headline: "Yes, Yes, Yes Minister!"
Damage rating: 2
12: Pergau Dam Oct 93
'Perhaps in the speed of the negotiations the wording wasn't as good as it should have been'
Who was involved: Lord Younger, the former Defence Secretary; Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister; John Major, the Prime Minister; Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary; Chris Patten, Governor of Hong Kong.
What happened: In 1988 the then defence secretary, George Younger, went to Malaysia to arrange an arms deal worth pounds 1bn. The Malaysian government, at the same time, wanted hundreds of millions of pounds to build a huge hydroelectric power dam across the Pergau river. The dam project was regarded by British officials as a mistake and ministers were advised not to back it, but in 1991 Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, gave the go-ahead for Britain to contribute three-quarters of the cost from its overseas aid budget - a sum in credits and grants of pounds 234m. The scandal broke in late 1993 when a National Audit Office report condemned the dam as a waste of money. Outrage grew when it was established that a direct link existed between the arms deal and the dam funding: Mr Younger, by now Lord Younger, had in 1988 promised the Malaysians he would press for aid for the Pergau dam, and that this should be in proportion to the value of the arms contract. A "moral obligation" was thus created. Indeed, letters confirming the arms deal and the aid agreement had been sent from London to the Malaysian government on the same day. Thus, even though Britain's aid spending is supposed to be used for humanitarian and development purposes in the Third World, it was being ploughed into a white elephant (being built by British companies) for the purpose of supporting arms exports. Amid the initial uproar, Malaysia temporarily suspended trade with Britain.
The outcome: The affair made the headlines throughout 1994. A Commons select committee investigation concluded that Lord Younger had made "a grave error of judgement" and criticised both Chris Patten, a former aid minister, and Lady Thatcher, for failing to co-operate with their inquiry. Worst of all for the Government, the High Court ruled that the dam deal was an illegal use of aid money. Mr Hurd said he considered resigning because he felt "tainted" by the court ruling, but decided not to, saying: "I have never knowingly broken the law."
Best headline: "Pergau dammed".
Damage rating: i i i i
13: Tim Yeo Dec 93
'Deep concern at disappointment and criticism being expressed by party members'
Who was involved: Tim Yeo, MP for Suffolk South and an Environment Minister; Julia Stent, a Tory councillor in the London Borough of Hackney.
What happened: The News of the World revealed that Ms Stent had given birth to Mr Yeo's illegitimate daughter, Claudia-Marie. The two had a fling at the 1992 Tory party conference after meeting at a Guy Fawkes party. Mr Yeo, a married man, was not a moralist, but he was a victim of the "Back to Basics" climate in his party at the time. Ministers were particularly hot on the iniquities of single mothers and here, it was pointed out, was a minister responsible for one. Mr Yeo went to the Seychelles on holiday just after the story broke, and received high-level support in his absence. But backbenchers and constituency Tories were critical. A mayor in Mr Yeo's constituency, Adline Horrigan, wrote urging Mr Major to sack him.
The outcome: Downing St was lukewarm in its support and effectively yielded the initiative to others. After two weeks, constituency activists forced Mr Yeo to resign from the Government.
Best headline: "Out Yeo Go".
Damage rating: 4
14: MP's council house Jan 94
'All the benefit has gone to the tenant and all the financial expenditure has been mine'
Who was involved: Alan Duncan, PPS to the Health Minister; Harry Ball-Wilson, his next door neighbour.
What happened: Mr Duncan lent Mr Ball-Wilson pounds 140,000 to buy a council house in Greyfrere Street, near Tory Central Office, in May 1990 at a discount under "right to buy" legislation. The deal was that Mr Duncan would lend his neighbour the money, pay for refurbishments (central heating, a new bathroom). Mr Ball-Wilson could live there rent-free until he died, when the property would pass to Mr Duncan. But Mr Ball-Wilson got married and moved out, letting the house and releasing Mr Duncan from his obligation to let him live there rent-free. Three years after he arranged to buy the house he registered a transfer. Under the right-to-buy, discounts are foreit if the house is sold within three years of the right-to-buy purchase. So Mr Duncan got the property for a bargain price of pounds 140,000, saving up to pounds 50,000 on the then market value. The story came out seven months later.
The outcome: Mr Duncan was forced to quit as a parliamentary aide, protesting that he had done nothing illegal or sexually suspect: "At least if I had been f***ing someone I would have been enjoying myself."
Best headline: "Nest Egg on His Face".
Damage rating: 2
15: Lord Caithness Jan 1994
'In her last few weeks she was deeply depressed and the earl knew it. I think she was lonely'
Who was involved: the Earl of Caithness, Minister for Shipping and Aviation; Diana, his wife; her parents; Jan Fitzalan Howard, his new lover, who was once a secretary to the Princess Royal.
What happened: The Earl's wife, Diana, turned a shotgun on herself in despair after her husband announced he was leaving her for another woman. Her mother dismissed reports that she killed herself over money worries. On Saturday 8 January the couple had a heart-to-heart talk about his relationship with Mrs Fitzalan-Howard. That same night Lord Caithness heard a shot and found his wife dead. The couple's children, Alexander, 12, and Lady Iona, 15, were downstairs at the time. Her father, Major Richard Coke, a former High Sherriff of Norfolk, said she was a devoted mother and loyal wife. His wife Molly was reported as saying: "I'm interested to know if Westminster will put up a cover-up."
Mrs Fitzalan Howard, who likes to be known as Jan, was later reported to be helping Caithness rebuild his life. After all the hot air generated by the Yeo and Duncan affairs, this was a tragic and shocking episode which was soon allowed to fade from the headlines.
The outcome: Caithness resigned as a minister 24 hours after his wife killed herself.
Damage rating: 1
16: Two men in a bed Jan 94
'In one hotel we found twin beds. In the other we didn't. It was much cheaper'
Who was involved: David Ashby, 53, Conservative MP for NW Leicestershire; Silvana, his wife; Dr Ciaran Kilduff, a male friend.
What happened: John Major must remember January 1994 with horror. Pergau, Yeo, Duncan, Caithness and now this. While on a rugby tour the two men decided to share a bed in a French hotel, Chateau Tilques, near St Omer, "to save money". The allegations were first levelled by a Sunday Times reporter who had been phoned with an anonymous tip.
Reporters stampeded to the hotel to check the dimensions of the bed in question. Mr Ashby admitted sharing it with a male friend but denied any homosexual relationship. The MP said his support for lowering the homosexual age of consent was part of his long-standing interest in civil rights. He said he had slept in the same bed as male friends many times, but any suggestion of homosexuality was the product of "dirty minds".
The outcome: Mr Kilduff won out-of-court payments from newspapers which suggested he was gay. Mr Ashby and his wife said their "tempestuous" marriage had been strengthened. Last week it was reported that police intervened to calm a furious row between them.
Best headline: "My bedfellow and I are just friends".
Damage rating 1
17: Gary Waller Jan 94
'The truth is, his story doesn't
add up and he has
told a string of lies'
Who was involved: Gary Waller, Tory MP for Keighley; Fay Stockwell, secretary to Sir Marcus Fox, chairman of the 1992 committee.
What happened: Mr Waller was forced to
v admit fathering a love child six years earlier by Fay Stockwell. He had previously vehemently denied allegations made by the People and threatened legal action against the newspaper. His live-in girlfriend and reasearcher, Jane Thomson, revealed he had hidden his affair with Ms Stockwell for six years.
The outcome: The matter was largely ignored, lost in the slipstream of all the other scandals emerging at the time. Libel specialists Peter Carter-Ruck, who had issued two strongly-worded statements on behalf of Mr Waller, were embarrassed. A source at the law firm reportedly said: "Now we know Mr Waller wasn't telling the truth. We wouldn't act for him again."
Best headline: "Tory's love child lies".
Damage rating: 1
18: 'Homes for votes' Jan 94
'I've done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and nothing improper. I shall clear my name'
Who was involved: Dame Shirley Porter, the Tesco supermarket millionairess and former Tory leader of Westminster City Council; nine other council members and officers, including ex-councillor Barry Legg, now Tory MP for Milton Keynes SW.
What happened: Shirley Porter always welcomed controversy as leader of one of the Conservatives' flagship London boroughs, but this was a row she did not want. BBC1's Panorama raised the lid on it in 1989, when a former chairwoman of the Westminster council housing committee, Patricia Kirwan, blew the whistle. But it was not until John Magill, the District Auditor, gave his preliminary report on an investigation into the running of the council that the affair really took off.
He described some of the housing policies pursued by Lady Porter and her colleagues in the late 1980s as "disgraceful" and "unlawful", amounting to gerrymandering. Under what was called a "designated sales policy", Tories were accused of selling council houses in marginal wards in an attempt to change the electoral make-up of the borough in their favour. Placing more owner-occupiers in certain key wards was seen, it was alleged, as a way of keeping the borough Tory. In his preliminary report Mr Magill said the 10 accused should pay back the pounds 21m he estimated their policies had cost the taxpayers.
The outcome: Lady Porter denied the charges and is fighting to clear her name. She went to Israel, where she was tracked down by newspaper reporters. Earlier this year she returned and issued a statement through her lawyers denying the allegations against her and saying she had come back to clear her name. The case rumbles on. The 10 Tories remain defiant. They say it will be some years before there is a final conclusion and they dispute the pounds 21m figure. A High Court attempt to have Mr Magill removed from the case failed. His full report is due for delivery on 1 September. Further legal challenges are expected.
Best headline: "They shipped out the poor, moved in the rich, dumped the homeless and rigged the election".
Damage rating: 4
19: Stephen Milligan Feb 94
'I feel both embarrassed and so sad for him. His life went on one day and then his reputation went the next'
Who was involved: Stephen Milligan, Tory MP for Eastleigh and PPS to Defence Minister Jonathan Aitken.
What happened: On the night of Saturday, 6 February, Mr Milligan, a bright young MP and former television journalist, died in his flat in Chiswick, West London. On the Monday, he was found dead by a friend, lying on the kitchen table wearing stockings, with his head covered by a plastic bag and a length of electrical cable wound round
Probably as a result of a reluctance to believe what had happened, a frenzy of rumours ran around Westminster. Was it murder or suicide? Was MI5 involved? Who leaked the details? (Tory MPs blamed the police, but later had to apologise.) Since the death coincided with vague claims in the People (never substantiated) by the footballer Justin Fashanu about gay sex rings, the frenzy was all the greater.
The outcome: An inquest heard that he accidentally suffocated while performing an act known as autoerotic asphyxiation, or "scarfing", which is practised to heighten orgasm. The coroner said there was no evidence that anyone else was
involved. It was "a tragic and entirely personal case", he said.
Damage rating: 2
20: Hartley Booth Feb 1994
'I'm not going to hang around like Yeo and the others'
Who was involved: Hartley Booth, Margaret Thatcher's successor as MP for Finchley and PPS to Foreign Office minister Douglas Hogg; his wife, Adrienne; Emily Barr, a House of Commons researcher.
What happened: Mr Booth, 47, a methodist lay preacher and the grandson of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, had an affair with Ms Barr, a former nude model. Before taking work as Mr Booth's researcher, Ms Barr had posed for students at the Courtauld Institute where she studied the history of art. She told him the artists paid her pounds 5 an hour; he offered her pounds 5.50.
Initially Ms Barr was coy about her relationship with Mr Booth; they denied having "full sex". But she later confirmed that they had and released copies of some rather pedestrian poetry the MP had written to her. To add to his embarrassment, it was revealed that Ms Barr was a left-winger who subsequently went to work for Labour spin doctor and Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson. She was a former winner of the Guardian's student journalist of the year award and had attended meetings of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers' Party in Mr Booth's constituency.
The outcome: Mr Booth was forced to resign as a PPS. His wife stood by him. Ms Barr was paid pounds 10,000 by the Sunday Mirror.
Best headline: "Streetwise girl and foolish MP".
Damage rating: 3
21: Clark's Women May 94
'I learnt he'd gone to bed with my daughters. It was clear he relished the mother-daughter thing'
Who was involved: Alan Clark, the former Defence and Trade Minister; Jane, his wife; James Harkess, a South African judge; Valerie, his wife; Alison and Josephine, his daughters; Max Clifford, a publicist.
What happened: Having left politics, Mr Clark published his very racy Diaries, which included a reference to his relationships with what he described as a "coven" of women, all from the same family. Although he did not name them in full, their identities, and their story, soon came out.
The following quotation gives the flavour of that part of the Diaries: "Driving away, we went past the Ritz and Joei said, 'Gosh, is that the Ritz? I wish we could go in there.' 'Why?' 'To go to bed, of course.' I was thoughtful. I have always been culpably weak in such matters. And when I got home I thought to myself - a new life, a new leaf."
Mr Clark was said to have had a 14-year affair with Valerie Harkess and later to have seduced her daughters Alison and Josephine into the bargain. Publicist Max Clifford arranged for them to tell their side of the tale through the News of the World. The judge flew to Britain from South Africa, where the family now lives, to say that he would have "horsewhipped" Mr Clark and to denounce a Tory Party "riddled with sex and corruption".
The outcome: Clark's book was a best-seller. The Harkesses returned to South Africa clutching a cheque. Mr Clark later apologised to his wife publicly: "Of course I am filled with remorse now. I've certainly been well and truly taken through fire and water."
Mrs Clark proved the star of the scandal, describing the Harkess women as "bitches from Essex" and her husband as "a shit". She added: "But it's terribly important to keep cheerful." Last month Mr Harkess accepted undisclosed damages from the Sunday Times over an article which had alleged that he had only gone public on the story to make money.
Best headline: "Cheated judge to confront romeo Tory".
Damage rating: 1
22: Michael Brown May 94
'Access to the
Commons is one of the
advantages of being close to
Who was involved: Mr Brown, MP for Brigg and Cleethorpes and a Government whip; a 20-year-old gay man; the News of the World.
What happened: The newspaper alleged that Mr Brown had been involved in a "three-in-a-bed sex romp". One of those said to have taken part was a male student at the London School of Economics whom Mr Brown was alleged to have taken on holiday to Barbados, the other was said to be a Ministry of Defence official. The student - who was reported to be under the age of homosexual consent - was quoted as saying: "I can take friends to the House [of Commons] any time . . . that's one of the advantages of being close to an MP."
The outcome: Mr Brown resigned immediately from the whips' office in order to to fight the allegations, but no libel case against the News of the World ever materialised. The MP later gave an interview saying he was glad he had been "outed" as he could concentrate on doing a good job as an MP. Mr Brown and Labour's Chris Smith are the only MPs to have admitted their homosexuality to the public. After being criticised for posing with a "girlfriend" at the time of the 1983 general election, Mr Brown said that anyone who had failed to realise his preferences "would have had to have been pretty thick".
Best headline: "Tory whip quits after gay toyboy allegations".
Damage rating: 2
23: Nicholas Scott May 94
Who was involved: Nicholas Scott, Minister for the Disabled; Victoria, his daughter; Lady Olga Maitland, MP for Sutton and Cheam.
What happened: When a private member's Bill to outlaw discrimination against the disabled was brought before Parliament, the Government chose to resist it by stealth. Twice the Bill was talked out of the Commons because Government supporters tabled such a mass of amendments there was no time for proper debates or votes.
Labour claimed the amendments had been drafted by the Health Department, but the Minister for the Disabled, Nicholas Scott, denied this.
Four days later, he was forced to admit that "the department, with my authority, had been involved in their preparation". He offered un-reserved apologies for having misled the House. Those calling for his resignation
included his daughter Victoria, who worked for the disabled charity Radar. "It would be the honourable thing to do," she said. Chief among the Government supporters criticised for obstructing the Bill was Lady Olga Maitland.
The outcome: The Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, accepted Mr Scott's apology but gave Lady Olga Maitland a dressing-down of a ferocity rarely seen in the Commons, telling the MP that her conduct "fell below the standards that the House is entitled to expect from its members". Mr Scott lost his job in the July reshuffle.
Damage rating: 3
24: Lord Archer July 94
'It is very difficult to promote him into jobs with this hanging over him'
Who was involved: Lord Archer, friend of John Major and former Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party; Lady Archer, his wife; Broosk Fawzi Saib, a Kurdish businessman; the board of Anglia Television.
What happened: On 12 January Lady Archer, as a non-executive director, attended a meeting of the board of Anglia Television which discussed bid proposals by MAI, a leisure firm. On 13 and 14 January, 1994, Lord Archer ordered a stockbroker to buy 50,000 shares in Anglia. The purchase price was 485p.
Early on 18 January MAI announced its bid, which valued Anglia shares much higher. That same morning Lord Archer instructed his broker to sell the shares. This was done at a price of 646p - at a profit on the transaction of almost pounds 80,000. The cheque was sent to Lord Archer's London address.
The deal aroused suspicions, and the Department of Trade and Industry mounted an investigation, naming Lord Archer as one of those under scrutiny. Lord Archer swiftly stated that he "did not buy any shares" in Anglia. It emerged that the share purchase was registered in the name of Broosk Fawzi Saib, a friend of the author. The Iraqi Kurdish businessman later confirmed that he had been involved in a "private deal" with Lord Archer.
The outcome: Three weeks after the story broke, Michael Heseltine, then President of the Board of Trade, said that on the basis of the inquiry report and legal advice, no action would be taken. Lord Archer admitted a "grave error" because he "allowed his name to be associated with the purchase". His deepest regret, he said, was "the embarrassment needlessly caused to lady archer in this matter".
Although there was never any suggestion of wrongdoing on her part, Lady Archer left the Anglia board. Lord Archer probably lost his last chance of high office, for in the midst of the controversy a reshuffle occurred in which he had hoped for a ministerial post. He did not get it.
Best headline: "A quiver full of troubles".
Damage rating: 3
25: Cash for questions Jul 94
'I never asked to see this person. I acted in good faith'
Who was involved: Graham Riddick, MP for Colne Valley and PPS to the Transport Secretary; David Tredinnick, MP for Bosworth and PPS to a Welsh Office minister.
What happened: A Sunday Times reporter, posing as a businessman seeking details of the commercial dealings of government departments, offered 10 MPs of each party pounds 1,000 to place a parliamentary question. At brief meetings on the House of Commons terrace, Mr Riddick and Mr Tredinnick accepted. Mr Riddick had second thoughts and returned the cheque; Mr Tredinnick said later he was surprised to receive it and had planned to give it to charity. When the story was printed both men denied wrongdoing and complained they had been "set up", although Mr Riddick apologised to the House.
The outcome: Both men lost their positions as PPSs, the first rung on the ladder of ministerial promotion, and after a Commons Privilege Committee inquiry they were also briefly suspended from the House - a very rare punishment: Mr Riddick was barred for 10 days and Mr Tredinnick for 20. The Sunday Times was cleared of accusations of entrapment by the Press Complaints Commission.
Best headline: "Dishonourable Members".
Damage rating: 4
26: Mark Thatcher Oct 94
'As a matter of public interest what information did Mark Thatcher obtain?'
Who was involved: Lady Thatcher; her son Mark; Adnan Khashoggi and Wafic Said, arms dealers.
What happened: Mark Thatcher's business affairs, so far as they have been known of, have always excited controversy. Now, as the Government struggled with Cash for Questions, it was alleged that the big deal which set Lady Thatcher's son on the path to wealth was none other than his mother's: the pounds 20bn Al Yamamah British arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Press reports said Mr Thatcher cashed in on his mother's name to gain a pounds 12m commission for services as a broker. Adnan Khashoggi claimed Mr Thatcher acted as middleman between his mother and the man who clinched the deal, the Syrian Wafic Said: "Whenever Wafic needed a question answered, Mark would go directly to his mother for the answer."
The outcome: Mr Thatcher said he was not an arms dealer and had never sold so much as a penknife. He remains in the US where he is currently facing lawsuits for alleged fraud brought by a former business associate.
He has also been mentioned in
connection with the Scott Inquiry and the Pergau Dam affair.
Damage rating: 3
27: Cash for questions II Oct 94
is no sleaze in
Who was involved: Neil Hamilton, MP for Tatton and Trade & Industry Minister; Tim Smith, MP for Beaconsfield and Northern Ireland Minister; Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods.
What happened: The war over Harrods in the 1980s was a bitter one. Tiny Rowland, who wanted it, and Mohamed Al Fayed, who owned it, employed every means at their disposal to do each other down. When the two men became friends late in 1993 they decided they really had one common enemy: the Conservatives. Thus in mid-October 1994, with sleaze high on the political agenda, Mr Fayed presented to the Guardian a story intended to hurt the Tories: that Mr Smith and Mr Hamilton, when backbenchers, had been paid by a Westminster lobbying company acting for Mr Fayed. In exchange, it was alleged, they asked questions in the Commons on behalf of Harrods about the conflict with Mr Rowland's firm Lonrho.
The outcome: Mr Smith immediately resigned his ministerial post, admitting he had accepted fees from Mr Fayed and asked questions about the Harrods war. Mr Hamilton denied the story and issued a writ against the Guardian. Within days, it was revealed that in 1987 he had taken a six-day holiday at the Paris Ritz, worth more than pounds 4,000
and paid for by Mr Fayed. So the second minister went.
The Select Committee on Members
Interests, to Labour fury, decided the rules on declaring interests in 1987 were not so
clear as they are now, so Mr Hamilton escaped punishment.
Most importantly, perhaps, at the end of October John Major set up the Nolan
committee to look into the conduct and interests of MPs.
Damage rating: 10
28: Jonathan Aitken I Oct 94
'A brunette lady of European aspect'
Who was involved: Jonathan Aitken, MP for Thanet South and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Lolicia Aitken, his wife; the Paris Ritz; Mohammed Ayas, a Middle Eastern businessman; Mohammed Al Fayed
What happened: Mr Fayed was not done. Again through the medium of the Guardian, he revealed details of another visit to his Paris hotel, the Ritz, this time by Mr Aitken in September 1993. The bill was 8,010.90 francs; who paid it? The Guardian at first believed, on the basis of documentary evidence, that it was paid by Mohammed Ayas, a Middle Eastern associate of Mr AItken's .
The minister denied this and said that although the room had been booked for him by Mr Ayas, he himself had paid the bill - or rather, his wife had, "with money given to her by me for this purpose, some hours after I had left Paris". The Guardian then quoted a letter to Mr Aitken from the Ritz manager saying that, indeed, "a brunette lady of European aspect" had paid the bill, but only 4,275 francs of it, or about half. Mr Aitken explained this by saying that Mr Ayas's nephew had paid the remainder but this had been a mistake, and Mr Aitken had since recompensed this nephew personally by cheque.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the minister sat on the board of a firm called Fadace (alongside, among others, Mr Ayas), but had never declared his 34 per cent stake on the register of interests. He said this was because it was a "tiddler" firm and he did not think his stake significant enough.
The outcome: Confusing, particularly given Mr Aitken's sluggishness and economy in responding to each development. Sir Robin Butler, the Cabinet Secretary, was asked to clear up the confusion but failed to do so, appearing to clear Mr Aitken before a full picture emerged. The furore grew when it emerged that, to secure some documents, the Guardian had used a fake fax on parliamentary paper - the famous "cod fax".
The paper's then editor, Peter Preston resigned from the Press Complaints Commission over this. Mr Aitken did not resign from anything.
Damage rating: 4
29: Michael Colvin Oct 94
'It may have been an error, I should have probably registered yes'
Who was involved: Michael Colvin, MP for Romsey and Waterside; Strategy Network International (SNI), a PR company.
What happened: At the height of the Hamilton/Smith affair (see Number 27), it emerged that another MP, Mr Colvin, a
longstanding opponent of sanctions against South Africa, had been a consultant for most of 1991 by SNI, but did not declare this in the register
The firm's clients included several South African concerns, and in that year he continued to ask parliamentary questions about developments in South Africa. Mr Colvin denied a report that he was paid pounds 10,000 and denied asking questions for money.
He said he had not registered the interest because the job - which came his way after Neil Hamilton had given it up - was "only a try-out".
The outcome: None.
Damage rating: 1
30: Angela Rumbold Oct 94
'Decisions should not be done on who can pull the most strings'
Who was involved: Dame Angela, MP for Mitcham and Morden and Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party; Decision Makers, a lobbying firm; Blue Circle, a construction firm.
What happened: Decision Makers conducted a campaign to have a Channel Tunnel railway station sited at Ebbsfleet, in Kent, on land owned by one of its clients, Blue Circle. Dame Angela, an executive director of Decision Makers, was alleged to have had a role in arranging meetings with ministers.
Ebbsfleet was eventually chosen in preference to Stratford, East London. Labour's Tony Banks complained that "decisions should not be done on who can pull the most strings", but Dame Angela denied any wrongdoing and said she had properly declared
The outcome: Dame Angela resigned from Decision Makers, still denying any conflict of interest. A spokesman said: "It was not worth the hassle."
Last January it emerged that her researcher did work for the firm at the same time as he was working for her - she was "gobsmacked", she said.
Damage rating: 2
31: Jobs for the boys Jan 95
'Yet again we are seeing ex-Tory ministers lining their pockets'
Who was involved: Lord Wakeham, a former Energy Secretary; NM Rothschild, a bank; numerous other former ministers and blue chip companies.
What happened: Six months after leaving the Cabinet, Lord Wakeham was appointed a non-executive director at NM Rothschild. This was the bank which advised regional electricity companies during the 1990 power privatisation - which Lord Wakeham masterminded. The former minister joined not only Tory ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont at the boardroom table, but also the former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Armstrong, and four other former top officials. His rapid move from the Cabinet room to a boardroom which had derived profit from his decisions provoked uproar. The Shadow Chancellor, Gordon Brown, immediately called for a ban on ex-Ministers taking executive jobs in companies they privatised. The Liberal Democrats demanded that Lord Wakeham pay back "the pounds 13,000 severance money he received from the taxpayer" when he left the Cabinet.
The outcome: Labour referred the appointment to Lord Nolan's inquiry into standards in public life. The affair drew attention to the large number of former ministers and officials making similar transitions. These include: Lord Tebbit, who joined the
board of British Telecom two years
after leaving Trade and Industry, where he oversaw its privatisation. Sir Norman Fowler, who privatised National Freight as
Minister for Transport in the 1980s
and is now on its board. Lord Walker,
Energy Secretary 1983-87 and now a director of British Gas, which was privatised in 1986. Lord Young of Graffham, Trade and
Industry Secretary 1987-89, who is
chairman of Cable and Wireless, which he joined a year after leaving office. While
not directly involved, he was a prime
exponent of privatisation. John
MacGregor, Transport Secretary 1992-94, returned to banker Hill Samuel a
few weeks after losing his Cabinet seat
last July. Hill Samuel was
involved in the Channel Tunnel Rail
Damage rating: 5
32: Aitken II Mar 95
'One more bad story will break the camel's back'
Who was involved: Jonathan Aitken; Michael Heseltine; several directors of BMARC, an arms firm; Iran.
What happened: A long, slow fuse reached its charge in March when the Independent reported that Mr Aitken was a non-executive director of BMARC during 1988-90 at a time when it was covertly exporting naval guns to Iran via Singapore in breach of an embargo. The paper showed that the so-called "Lisi" contract was referred to frequently in board documents, and produced evidence indicating that it was discussed at two meetings which Mr Aitken attended. Mr Aitken declared at first that he neither saw nor heard any reference to Lisi, adding that he had left one meeting early.
Later he said that "in no board paper of that company was I ever given the slightest indication or information that the company's wholly legitimate contract with Singapore might subsequently result in components being shipped to Iran". BMARC chairman, Gerald James, was quoted as saying Mr Aitken would have had to be "deaf and blind" not to have known what was going on. Other board members split roughly evenly on Mr James's view.
In April, ITV's World in Action reported on his links with the Middle East and the arms trade. He filed writs for libel and announced his intention to take a stand against "bent and twisted journalism". Then in June, Michael Heseltine revealed to Parliament that in his view BMARC's guns could well have gone to Iran and that in the 1980s control of arms exports had been riddled with holes. By last month, as a misdirected fax revealed, the Chief Secretary was being told that one more bad story would break the camel's back.
The outcome: Mr Aitken resigned earlier this month immediately after the Tory leadership contest and before Mr Major's reshuffle. Whether he would have survived the reshuffle is not known, but he insisted that he was going to devote himself fully to his libel actions. Within days of his resignation there were further allegations about his business past, and the Sunday Mirror reported that v
v 12 years ago he had an affair with a woman who, unknown to him, was a prostitute.
Best headline: Jonathan of Arabia
Damage rating: 5
33: Sir Jerry Wiggin May 95
Who was involved: Sir Jerry, MP for Weston-super-Mare; Sebastian Coe, MP for Falmouth.
What happened: Sir Jerry, a paid adviser to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, tabled an amendment to a Gas Bill relating to gas supplies to mobile homes. He did this, however, not in his own name, but in that of fellow MP Sebastian Coe, and failed to tell him. When the story broke, he was in South Africa, studying fruit production with a parliamentary delegation (his enthusiasm for such trips led to the sobriquet "Junket Jerry").
The outcome: Declaring that "we cannot legislate for integrity'', the Speaker ruled that an apology would suffice. Sir Jerry said he was sorry, that he had acted from good intentions, but "I accept my actions were open to other interpretations." The affair managed to outrage both Labour and the Tory backbenches, which thought he had got off too lightly.
Best headline: "Off with a Wiggin".
Damage rating: 3
34: Nicholas Scott II June 95
She said: 'The child's not dead and they're not even English'
Who was involved: Sir Nicholas; Patricia Sill Johnson, his secretary; Thibault Perreard, a Swiss three-year-old, Tarek Abdalla aged 22, of the nearby Sydney Street Cafe, Lady Scott,
What happened: On his way home after the Chelsea Conservative Association's annual garden party, Sir Nicholas's Volvo hit the Volvo in front, pitching it into the Jaguar XJS in front of that and trapping Thibault in his pushchair. While passers-by freed the toddler, the former minister walked away. His woman companion, thought at the time to be his wife, was said to have declared: "What's the big deal? Nothing has happened. The child's not dead and they're not even English." Sir Nicholas retired to a friend's house, where he was arrested. He was breath-tested and bailed.
The outcome: Sir Nicholas apologised to the parents of the child and said: "That is the end of the matter." The police, however, have not said their final word.
Best headline: "You coward".
Damage rating: 2
1: Monklands Dec 92
'There is nothing terribly unusual about Monklands'
Who was involved: John Smith, the late Labour leader; Monklands District Council.
What happened: Tory backbenchers claimed council officials employed relatives and biased spending in favour of Catholic areas. Labour complained this was an attempt to smear Mr Smith, in whose constituency Monklands lay.
The outcome: A report by Professor Robert Black, commissioned by the council itself, found against a number of councillors. They were suspended from the Labour party. The Government has set up a statutory inquiry.
Damage rating: 4
2: Dennis Skinner Feb 94
'It is comforting to know that Dennis is human after all'
Who was involved: Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover; Lois Blasenheim, his House of Commons researcher .
What happened: Mr Skinner was photographed with a scarf wrapped around his face as he visited the Chelsea home of Ms Blasenheim, with whom he was having an affair.
The outcome: Mr Skinner and his wife said they had been separated for several years. Mr Skinner, "the Beast of Bolsover", continues to torment the Government in the Commons.
Damage rating: 1
3: Peter Snape Feb 95
'I haven't made any money and if I
do, I will pay tax'
Who was involved: Peter Snape, Labour MP for West Bromwich; West Midlands Travel, a privatised bus company.
What happened: Mr Snape bought 40,000 cheap shares in the company under his options as a director, prompting allegations that he was cashing in. Labour's embarrassment was more acute because Mr Snape was a former Opposition transport spokesman.
The outcome: He was expected to make a profit of pounds 70,000.
Best headline: "Labour MP coins it on the buses".
Damage rating 2
4: Roger Godsiff Feb 95
'We did what we believed to be best at the time'
Who was involved: Roger Godsiff, MP for Bir-mingham Small Heath; Birmingham City Council.
What happened: Mr Godsiff was alleged to have helped people jump the queue for home improvement grants of up to pounds 20,000 in an attempt to "buy" a safe Parliamentary seat when his own disappears. When a list of grant applicants was checked against party membership lists, the local government ombudsman found a disproportionate number of Labour supporters were found to be on track for cash.
The outcome: After this preliminary finding, council leader Theresa Stewart ordered an investigation.
Best headline: "Small Heath gives Labour pains".
Damage rating: 3
1: Paddy Ashdown Feb 92
'Within hours of stealing the document he was in contact with the News of the World'
Who was involved: Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader; Patricia Howard, his former secretary; Simon Berkowitz, a burglar.
What happened: Mr Ashdown had a brief relationship with Ms Howard in 1985. In 1990 he spoke about it as a possible matter of scandal to his solicitor, who made a record of the conversation and placed it in his safe. In January 1992 that safe, at the City of London law firm of Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, was broken into by Berkowitz, and the document and pounds 225 in cash were stolen. Berkowitz, who later insisted that the document was given to him by a stranger in a pub, contacted the News of the World and sums in excess of pounds 20,000 were discussed. When Mr Ashdown and Ms Howard were approached for confirmation, however, the scam fell apart. Mr Ashdown issued a writ and then, when rumours began to circulate, went public with the story, admitting the relationship. The affair had the added angle that Berkowitz, from Hove in Sussex, was a man with Conservative leanings, and this all happened on the eve of the
The outcome: Berkowitz went to jail
while Mr Ashdown's opinion poll rating actually rose. But suspicions that the
burglary was intended to be part of a deliberate smear campaign never quite died. Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of the Sun, said for example that in the second week of
the election campaign a Cabinet minister called his office with false allegations about Mr Ashdown.
Best headline: "Paddy Pantsdown".
Damage rating: 2
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