Spywriter Tory may join Aitken and Archer out in the cold

The smooth-talking spywriter Rupert Allason could face jail after losing court case

Things hit a new low last week when a judge declared he could soon be following in the footsteps of those other scandal-hit Tories, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken, on the path that leads directly to jail. A court has imposed a six-month suspended sentence on Mr Allason and given him 42 days to comply with an order to produce details of his wealth.

The ruling is the latest in a four-year legal battle, notable for one of the most scathing verdicts delivered in court against a public figure. In October 2001, Mr Justice Laddie described Mr Allason as "one of the most dishonest witnesses I have ever seen". He added: "I have come to the clearest possible conclusion that Mr Allason has told me untruth after untruth in pursuit of this claim."

Mr Allason had sued the publishers Random House for damages over the disputed authorship of and copyright to The Enigma Spy, which was published under the name of John Cairncross, the alleged "fifth man" in the Cambridge spy ring.

He claimed to have ghostwritten the book, in return for 50 per cent of the proceeds and the copyright, a claim denied by the ex-spy's widow, Gladys Cairncross, who said that Mr Allason's only role was to find a publisher. Since winning the case, Random has spent four years trying in vain to collect the damages awarded.

Speaking from the US yesterday, Mr Allason said that he had no knowledge of the latest ruling. He added: "I've only just appointed a new lawyer, so I'm a bit behind on all this. I don't really want to talk about it. I just recommend that people don't sign a contract with Random House."

He has been a prolific litigant. By the early 1990s, he claimed to have won 22 cases, 17 for libel. By representing himself, he kept his costs to a minimum and was said to have amassed a fortune in the courts. His most spectacular victory was against the Daily Mirror, over an unsigned article that attacked him in retaliation for remarks he had made in the Commons about the newspaper's proprietor, Robert Maxwell. After Maxwell's dishonesty had been exposed, the Mirror had to pay Mr Allason a sum reputed to be around £230,000.

He overreached himself by taking the Mirror to court again, along with its political editor, Alastair Campbell. The case was thrown out in 1996 - although not before the judge said: "I did not find Mr Campbell a wholly satisfactory or convincing witness." He later secured a payment from the Mirror.

He lost outright in 1998, when he sued the BBC after Have I Got News for You referred to him as a "conniving little shit". The judge decided it was "mere abuse" and found in the BBC's favour. The presenter, Angus Deayton, repeated the "abuse" with glee.

Last autumn he had to pay costs to the journalist Andrew Roth after Mr Allason had rehashed a story dating back to the 1950s, when the FBI accused Mr Roth of being a Soviet agent.

Mr Allasonwas elected as the Conservative member for Torbay in 1987 but when he lost his seat in 1997 he was the architect of his own downfall. Two weeks before polling day, Mr Allason and a friend ate at the Thatched Tavern restaurant in Torbay. His failure to leave a tip caused the restaurant's waitresses - and their husbands - to switch their vote from Conservative to Liberal Democrat. In all, the waitresses estimated, the lack of a tip may have cost him 14 votes. He lost by 12.

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
peopleAnti-LGBT campaigner Vitaly Milonov suggested Tim Cook could bring 'Aids or gonorrhea' to Russia
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes