He cut short their honeymoon to rush home to his young mistress. She had 10 bags of manure delivered to his office in protest at his betray. But TV presenter Rachel Royce's very public revenge on her cheating husband, the former editor of Radio 4's Today programme, Rod Liddle, had only just begun.
He cut short their honeymoon to rush home to his young mistress. She had 10 bags of manure delivered to his office in protest at his betrayal. But the television presenter Rachel Royce's very public revenge on her cheating husband, the former editor of Radio 4's Today programme, Rod Liddle, had only just begun.
This weekend, she revealed the full details to the media of the collapse of their marriage after discovering her husband's infidelity just months after their lavish £20,000 wedding in Malaysia in January.
Ms Royce, 42, let the vitriol spill across three pages of the Daily Mail in a frank exposé of their break-up and the newspaper promises more revelations in a weekly column: "Diary of a divorcée."
On the same day, in another example of that odd predilection some celebrities show for washing their dirty linen in public, Mr Liddle, 44, came clean about his new 22-year-old girlfriend, Alicia Monckton, in an interview in Saturday's Daily Telegraph. Mr Liddle met Ms Monckton while she was a receptionist at The Spectator and describes her as his "true love".
Mr Liddle and Ms Royce, who have two sons, Tyler, six, and Wilder, four, met in 1993 while at the BBC, and were soon an item. But Mr Liddle embarked on his first affair a few months after the birth of their second son, according to Ms Royce. The couple patched things up, and they married last January on the island of Langkawi in Malaysia. Just a few months later, after her suspicions were aroused, Ms Royce trailed her husband to a London hotel where he confessed he was meeting a girl, but said it was a platonic work meeting. A huge scene in the lobby followed and she declared the marriage over.
The extent of her husband's mendacity only emerged later when she phoned Ms Monckton. After initial reticence, Ms Monckton admitted that the affair had started before the wedding. She had picked Mr Liddle up from the airport when he flew back early from his honeymoon after claiming he was needed as a commentator on the Hutton inquiry. Ms Royce confessed she "turned into a complete Fatal Attraction bunny boiler" after learning he was moving into a cottage near the family home with his girlfriend. Her coup de grâce was getting 10 sacks of manure for £70 at a local auction to send to Mr Liddle at the Spectator office.
Sidney Crown, a former consultant psychotherapist at the Royal London Hospital who specialises in relationship problems, said that the desire for publicity is what drives those in the public eye to act in this way. Mr Crown said: "Much of celebrities' lives are conducted in public and that old cliché that any publicity is good publicity holds true. You have to consider what people go into these professions it often tends to be the type that need adulation. Their desire to be the centre of attention often overrides more obvious traits such as not wanting to come over as a fool in public."
The very public row looks set to be continued as Ms Royce told early editions of today's Daily Mail: "I do still feel very upset but it is not just about his infidelity but all the lies he told me to cover up the affair.
"Twice I found a packet of Viagra in his pocket with some tablets missing. Rod said it was for research for his new book which is about middle-aged men and adultery. Now he's admitted men are programmed to have affairs. I think I'm better off without him."
Mr Liddle, whose book Too Beautiful for You examines extramarital affairs, said: "The trouble is there is an element of hypocrisy involved in saying I don't want to talk about it, as someone who's always said that one should be open and transparent to the press. The central point is I'm not proud of it and I'm going to shut up."
Ms Monckton told the Daily Mail: "I am very upset about the whole situation. Rachel may talk about it but neither Rod nor I will talk about it. I just want the whole thing to go away."
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