Mr Simpson, a fallen hero desperate to bask in public adoration again, had come to seek friends - and smile for the cameras - in the hall where Mother Teresa, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have spoken.
It was inevitably a media circus and the ringmaster was Max Clifford, the public relations man for those for whom the only way left is up. Evidence of Mr Clifford's whip cracking was everywhere. Mr Simpson, the former American football star who was acquitted in October of murdering his ex- wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, was evidently under instructions to smile a lot.
He smiled as he emerged across a sunlit lawn at the Union into a clattering storm of camera shutters. He smiled as reporters shouted "Why is the American tax man after you?" And when someone shouted: "Do you think the British think you are guilty?" as he edged his way towards the photocall.
Photograph: Peter MacdiarmidReuse content