Diggle: he who took the low road

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ANGUS JULIAN MACKAY DIGGLE, the 37-year-old solicitor found guilty of attempting to rape his partner after an expatriate Scottish ball, received a new name - Dirty Diggle - yesterday as fierce attention focused on the latest example of the British predilection for combining appalling behaviour with farce, sex, class, drink and money.

Diggle, though, will be hard to top. Here was a man who had invited a woman to a ball and then tried to rape her, having drunk quantities of orange juice, champagne, wine and whisky. He had taken off his highland costume and his 'Inspector Clouseau-type boxing shorts with pink panthers on them' and was wearing only his frilly wrist cuffs and a green condom. Afterwards he was alleged to have said to police, though he told the court he could not remember so doing: 'I have been out with her. I have spent pounds 200 on her. Why can't I do what I have done to her?'

He also said in court that he had not approved of his partner drinking whisky before dinner. But the key remark was the one he kept repeating to the woman and her friends after the attempted rape: 'This is so ordinary and you people are so boring. You obviously did not go to public school.'

There is a world of vicious snobbery, of silly aspiration, and indeed of Britain in that. Diggle shares with his mother a semi-detached house in Bolton, where he has lived all his life. He is reported have attended Bolton School, a minor public school.

He has been described by one friend as 'old fogeyish' with interests in wine, stained glass windows and calligraphy. He has also harassed, partly in Latin, and partly from Shakespeare, a woman on the train from Manchester to Bolton.

Bathetic, pathetic. His only connection with Scotland, apparently, is that his mother was born there. This is the world of spurious distinction, connection and invention, like the short kilt itself, introduced by an English iron smelter in the 18th century and worn by the most surprising people at weddings and balls.

So is the St Andrew's Ball and its like seething with Diggles? A former female reeler thought Diggle's antecedents and behaviour, 'slap down the middle, absolutely par for the course'. The last false note was struck by the ball's chairman. For this year's ball, he has offered the victim a free ticket for herself 'and a partner of her choice'.

(Photograph omitted)

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