Marquess's quick escape: Marlborough heir follows in family footsteps - out of window

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLISH nobleman can always astound the world. John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough is supposed to have founded the family fortunes by pleasuring the Duchess of Cleveland - one of Charles II's mistresses.

One day, the king came to her unexpectedly, and the future duke leapt from the window stark naked, at which the king threw down his shoes to him, but not his trousers. 'I forgive you John, for I know you do it for a living.'

John Churchill's descendant Jamie, who will be the next Duke of Marlborough ran away through another window yesterday morning.

The Marquess of Blandford, heir to Blenheim Palace, 11,500 acres of Oxfordshire, and a fortune of pounds 100 m evaded a tipstaff trying to dun him for pounds 10,534 which he owes his estranged wife Becky.

Policemen were waiting outside the Marquess's rented maisonette in Fulham when he came pedalling home at 7am. This is almost the only mode of transport left to him, if he is not to walk, since he has been banned from driving four times, has served a three- month jail sentence for driving while disqualified, and been sued by at least one taxi firm for non-payment of accounts.

The police and the tipstaff, Bob Emery, had by this time been reinforced by numerous press photographers and a drug-sniffing dog. They all followed the Marquess in until they reached the door of his flat. It was locked. It took them an hour to break it down, using sledgehammers. By that time the Marquess was gone.

It is unclear whether he nipped out the back window, evading a policeman stationed to prevent such bravado, or whether, as his anonymous friend and landlord later claimed, he had simply nipped out through the skylight to visit his many friends along the street.

If spotted by a policeman he is as liable for arrest as anyone else found scrambling around the rooftops of Fulham. It will not be a new experience. He has served a jail term for repeated drug offences.

His motives in running remain unclear. One explanation is that he was piqued when his wife sold her story to the Daily Mail; another was offered in an interview he gave some years ago, when he said: 'I do feel confused about my destiny and I have always resented having my life mapped out for me. I don't really know what to do with my life.'