Malicious sister tried to destroy MP, court told
Libel trial: 'Newspaper allegations about holiday at homosexual love-nest were part of campaign aimed at forcing resignation'
Friday 24 November 1995
The embittered sister of a Tory MP mounted a campaign to force his resignation by accusing him of having a homosexual affair, a jury was told yesterday.
In a series of telephone calls and taped conversations, Lynne Garling, sister of David Ashby, the MP for Leicestershire North West, passed information seeking to expose him in an article in the Sunday Times, the High Court was told.
However, in telephone conversations with Mr Ashby's wife, Silvana, from whom he was separated when the article appeared last year, Mrs Garling swore that she had not been the source of the information.
Geoffrey Shaw QC, for Mr Ashby, told the court that just before the article was published on 16 January, his client had told a Sunday Times reporter that his sister was "a vicious, sick woman motivated solely by malice" and was out to destroy him.
Mr Ashby, 55, who has been an MP since 1983, is suing the newspaper for libel over the article which he says makes him out to be a "homosexual, liar and hypocrite".
Times Newspapers and Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times, deny libel, saying that Mr Ashby was conducting a homosexual relationship with Dr Carian Kilduff.
The article said Mr Ashby and an unnamed man spent a night in November, 1993 at a hotel in Goa which was a "love nest that asked few questions about its guests". Mr Shaw said it was true that his client had spent a night at the hotel, but he had been alone and had not spent it with a male friend.
The information about the holiday had come from Mrs Garling and her husband, Victor, in a series of anonymous telephone calls, said Mr Shaw.
The newspaper had earlier published another story, not the subject of the action, also on the basis of an anonymous tip, saying Mrs Ashby, 53, had been furious because the couple had split up when he left her for another man. Mrs Ashby confronted Mrs Garling asking if she had provided the material in the story, which she denied.
However, in the wake of the publication of the article on 9 January, other newspapers published allegations that Mr Ashby had shared a double bed at a French chateau with Dr Kilduff. Mr Shaw told the jury that when questioned by journalists on the doorstep of his flat in south-west London, Mr Ashby denied that he was having a homosexual affair but conceded that he had shared hotel rooms with men to save money.
However, a second story appeared in the Sunday Times when Mrs Garling again contacted the newspaper to tell of the holiday in Goa. The reporter tried to reassure Mrs Garling that she was doing the right thing - saying that if Mr Ashby, who stressed the importance of family values in the 1992 general election, had been openly homosexual the paper would not have been interested.
The reporter told Mrs Garling that it would force her brother's resignation from Parliament within two weeks, Mr Shaw said. "From that passage you learn that the joint object of Lynne Garling and the Sunday Times was to force, for their own reasons, David Ashby to resign as an MP."
The hearing continues today.
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings plane crash: Andreas Lubitz 'had eyesight problems' and woke from nightmares 'screaming we’re going down'
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...