Mark Leftly: Jeremy Thorpe tale offers lesson for MPs seeking board seats


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Westminster Outlook Talking of Liberal leaders having trouble with business, Michael Bloch’s rip-roaring biography of Jeremy Thorpe, who died last month, reminds us of more than just the Old Etonian’s sexploits. Before the Norman Scott scandal ended his political career, Thorpe was nearly dragged down by London & County Securities, a lender of risky second mortgages.

During the 1970s, Thorpe enjoyed a £5,000 salary and car as a director, but was repeatedly warned that this was a risky business. So it proved, as the bank collapsed and a government probe criticised Thorpe for, as Mr Bloch puts it, “lending his name to a business without fully informing himself of its affairs”.

A huge number of MPs are retiring this year. An incredibly large proportion are on the hunt for directorships, particularly in the defence sector. Let’s hope they choose rather more carefully.