Last night it was revealed that two weeks ago his body was discovered at the foot of the 16-storey block of flats in Gospel Oak, north-west London. Police are not treating his death as suspicious and it would seem that, pending an inquest, he had thrown himself over the balcony.
Described by police as "unemployed and of no fixed abode" and known to officers in nearby Kentish Town as a heroin addict, it is an unseemly end for the 42-year-old former accountant. He lay in the morgue unidentified for several weeks. His sister, Caroline, herself embroiled in an illegitimacy scandal in the 1960s, did not identify his body until recently. Last night she had returned to Cape Town "on business", and was said to be deeply upset.
William Maudling's father was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home in the early 1960s and Home Secretary when Edward Heath was Prime Minister in the early 1970s. But his political career came to an abrupt end in 1972 when it emerged that architect John Poulson had bribed local council officials to win contracts. Maudling was implicated because he had served on the board of one of Poulson's companies and resigned from the Home Office. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a parliamentary inquiry in 1977.
William Maudling had appeared to have a bright future. A Westminster Under School pupil, he later flirted with gambling and became an accomplished horse racing tipster known for backing big winners. He trained as an accountant and joined the Hampstead and Highgate Labour Party, but his downfall was drug abuse.
Police sources said he was hopelessly ruined by heroin. One said: "He bankrupted himself because of heroin. He spent thousands of pounds on drugs and was left ruined."