Villain Of The Year: Jonathan Aitken; The liar who claims he's turned to God for solace
Once, Aitken would have been happy to talk, swaggering in his own impregnability. When newspapers like this one and its sister the Independent were keen to explore his business affairs, Aitken would engage in macho verbal combat. Not any more.
He is a broken figure, a shadow of the thrusting, Conservative Cabinet minister who roused his party by promising to crush allegations of sleaze with "the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play". It is hard to imagine now that when he called the press conference in 1995 to denounce three separate claims - that he had procured prostitutes for Arabs, allowed an Arab businessman and friend to pay his bill at the Ritz hotel in Paris, and had had dealings with arms dealers - Aitken was spoken of by some colleagues as a future leader of the party. Friends predicted that once he had put the press to the sword, his fortunes would soar.
They reckoned without the awful truth that Aitken was lying. But the fact he is a liar does not explain why he topped the poll for Villain of the Year. He owes that dubious distinction to his willingness to encourage his daughter to lie on his behalf. He was prepared to allow her to face cross-examination from George Carman QC - probably the most fearsome barrister in the land.
The shattering realisation that his plot had failed came on the afternoon of 18 June. For days, Mr Aitken's lawyer, Richard Sykes, had been telling the press to expect "Ladies Day", when his wife, Lolicia and daughter, Victoria, would give evidence proving the falsity of the Guardian's claim that his Ritz bill was paid by someone else. Lolling in the courtroom, Aitken's demeanour had been carefree. Then it changed. He had been handed a statement the Guardian had obtained from a British Airways employee proving that his wife and daughter had not flown to Paris, as claimed, but to Geneva.
Mr Carman described this as the most dramatic moment of his career. A humiliated Aitken was left with a pounds 2m legal bill. His marriage was in tatters. His political career, threatened by the loss of his Thanet South seat at the general election was finished. He resigned, before he was pushed, from the Privy Council, thus losing the right to describe himself as the Right Honourable. Scotland Yard launched an investigation for possible perjury.
Aitken has turned to God for guidance. In the Spectator this week, he wrote of remorse, concluding: "So long as faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ is one's companion in life's dark valleys, then even a painful Christmas can still be a joyful Christmas."
Life & Style blogs
Blood test that predicts Alzheimer's disease
Scientists find the origin of 'bad' fat linked to heart disease and cancer
Amputee drummer gains 'superhuman' skills with robotic arm
Stevia wonder: The plant that's a super sugar alternative – and free from calories and carbs
International Women's Day 2014: Google makes 80 second video of inspirational women from across the world for animated Doodle
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
£3360 - £16800 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Cover Supervisor requ...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Male and Female PE te...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...