Black sheep! Even the best families have one

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The uncle of Kate Middleton, Prince William's girlfriend, was alleged in the press to be a drug-dealing ne'er-do-well. Most of us have an embarrassing parent, sibling or child. Andrew Johnson looks at the ties that bind – and humiliate


Ronald Ramsay


Ronald cooked up a little trouble for his big brother, the celebrity chef Gordon, in 2007 when he was jailed for 10 months in Indonesia for possession of heroin. Ramsay junior, with a long history of drug addiction, had been working in Bali.

He complained at the time that his Hell's Kitchen star brother wouldn't stump up £6,000 for a lawyer. Ramsay senior, who had spent £30,000 on rehab fees, was less than impressed. "I cannot continue funding," he said. "He's 39. When you're 39, you're a man. You should have responsibilities in life."

Black sheep factor: 3/5

John Draper Witherspoon

Reese cemented her place among the Hollywood elite with an Oscar in 2006 for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, the biopic of Johnny Cash starring Joaquin Phoenix. Big brother John, however, was keeping his head down, having been put on probation in 2002 for sexual battery. A neighbour woke up to find a drunken Witherspoon kissing and attempting to undress her. He said he couldn't remember the incident, but didn't deny his victim's version of events. One of the conditions of his plea bargain was that he spend weekly sessions at a drug and alcohol clinic in Nashville.

Black sheep factor: 2/5

Adam Osborne

As if shadow Chancellor George hasn't had enough bad headlines of his own, his younger brother Adam chipped in with a few last year. The doctor quit his post at Wythenshawe Hospital's psychiatry department in Manchester after it began an investigation into allegations he had prescribed tranquillisers to friends. The case was referred to the General Medical Council, which has suspended him. Osborne the younger could be struck off if the allegations are proven.

Black sheep factor: 2/5

Roger Clinton Jnr

Bill wouldn't be Bill without some murky family member to further tarnish his reputation. The former president's half-brother served a year for cocaine distribution in 1984 when Bill was Governor of Arkansas. When Bill left the White House in 2001, his brother's name was on a list of friends and associates given a presidential pardon. Just a month later Roger was charged with drunk driving and disturbing the peace.

Black sheep factor: 3/5

Alison Carey

Mariah and her big sister were split up at a young age when their parents divorced. While three-year-old Mariah went to live with mum and grew up to be one of the world's biggest stars, Alison's path was less fortuitous. She became a drug addict and turned to prostitution, contracting HIV into the bargain. The two have a difficult relationship. Alison has described her sister as a "vain and heartless multimillionaire". In 2000, she announced that she would air the family's dirty laundry in a book, but it never materialised.

Black sheep factor: 4/5

Jimmy 'the Dip' Kensit

Poor old Patsy Kensit had no idea she was from a criminal family until she took part in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? in 2008. The Emmerdale actress rushed off set at one point, aghast at learning that both her father and grandfather were East End career criminals. Dad James earned his nickname at 19 when he was arrested for pickpocketing. He went on to become a con man, friend of the Krays and associate of the Richardson gang. One judge described him as an "incorrigible rogue". Grandad, also called James, spent the first 10 years of his son's life in jail.

Black sheep factor: 5/5

Andrew Tweedy

Cheryl Cole, née Tweedy, has come a long way from the Heaton, Newcastle, estate where she grew up. While she tops the charts with Girls Aloud and charms the nation on The X Factor, big brother Andrew keeps turning up in the dock. He has appeared before the bench 50 times, has 80 convictions and has spent about 10 years in jail. In May he received a suspended sentence for using pepper spray on a passer-by.

Black sheep factor: 5/5

Martin, Mario and Christopher Ciccone

One black-sheep brother may be bad luck, two may be carelessness, but three has to be put down to misfortune. Madonna's elder brother Martin has been arrested three times for drink driving. Half-brother Mario had to undergo drug testing after beating his girlfriend, and Christopher wrote a telltale book in 2008 in which he described his sister as a narcissist skinflint.

Black sheep factor: 3/5

Eric Douglas

You have to feel for Eric. Dad Kirk was Spartacus, elder half-brother Michael was Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and married Catherine Zeta-Jones. All Eric wanted to do was follow his dad into the movies, but is remembered for his drink and drug problems. He became a poor stand-up comic, was booed off stage for being drunk, had many drug convictions, was shouted down by Zeta-Jones when he told an audience she was Scottish (she's Welsh), and was jailed for disrupting an airline flight. He died in 2004, aged 46, from a drug and alcohol overdose.

Black sheep factor: 3/5

Damir Dokic

It seemed the Dokic family had put the Balkan war behind them when daughter Jelena emerged as the bright future of women's tennis in 1999 with her demolition of then world No 1 Martina Hingis. However, the public gaze on coach and father Damir's brutal tactics, which included physical abuse and belittling anyone who crossed his path, saw her rankings tumble from fourth to 621. That's the least of it. War veteran Damir is now serving 17 months for threatening to blow up the Australian ambassador to Serbia with a grenade launcher. When police raided his house they found bullets, nail bombs, seven hunting rifles and a pistol. Jelena is rebuilding her career.

Black sheep factor: 5/5

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