Extravagant tastes of man of few means (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

CHAMPAGNE flowed and the food was provided by professional caterers at a party held by Stanley Adams to celebrate the 70th birthdays of Bert Reed and his wife Rita, writes Will Bennett.

Mr Reed, the veteran president of Yeovil Labour Party and a lifelong teetotaller, was embarrassed by such ostentatious hospitality. However, it reinforced the impression that Mr Adams had given that he was a man of means.

But the truth was that Mr Adams was not wealthy. Within three months of the party at his home in Chilthorne Domer, near Yeovil, Somerset, he was claiming pounds 95 a week income support, which became his main source of cash.

He continued to shower fellow Labour Party activists with gifts and spent a fortune on taxis while giving the impression that he played the stock market successfully. His wife, Deborah, told Bristol Crown Court: 'My husband has somewhat extravagant tastes.'

By the time of his arrest he was pounds 4,000 overdrawn and the Department of Social Security was paying the interest on the pounds 60,000 mortgage on the couple's pounds 180,000 house. On his wife's death Mr Adams would have got pounds 500,000 from life insurance policies.

He was born Stanislau Formosa in Malta, where he married his first wife, Rita, when she became pregnant. He did not even mention her in the book he wrote about the Hoffman-La Roche affair which brought him international prominence. The ambitious Mr Adams had become the Swiss-based company's world product manager for bulk vitamins.

In 1973, he reported the company to the European Economic Community for illegal price fixing. Hoffman-La Roche was fined pounds 150,000, but the EEC told the company who its source was, and Mr Adams was arrested in Switzerland for breaching trade secrets. His second wife, Marilene, by whom he had three daughters, committed suicide while he was in prison after being told that he would serve 20 years. He jumped bail when he was released, received a 12-month suspended sentence in absentia, and came to Britain in 1981.

As a whistle-blower who had suffered for his actions he became a hero. He reluctantly accepted pounds 200,000 compensation from the European Commission, was feted by politicians, and met his third wife while writing a book about the Hoffman-La Roche affair.

Deborah Adams, 21 years his junior, is a quiet, bespectacled book editor and proofreader who worked for his publishers. She was cut out of her parents' will when she married Adams in 1984 and was dominated by her autocratic, possessive husband.

In 1986, they bought their house with six acres of land and soon the former businessman immersed himself in Labour Party activities in the seat held by Paddy Ashdown, Liberal Democrat leader, where Labour is a poor third.

His period as agent and then secretary of Yeovil Constituency Labour Party was marked by acrimony which stunned members in one of the party's rural backwaters. At first they were impressed by his background, his chancellorship of St Andrew's University, and his ability to attract big-name speakers. But their candidate in the 1987 general election nearly walked out during the campaign after a row with Mr Adams.

When the party sacked him as secretary, Mr Adams, convinced as ever that he was the victim of a conspiracy, defected to the Tories. Mr Reed said: 'He lacks the democratic touch. He always thought he was cleverer than the movement.'


In our story concerning Stanley Adams, on 15 March, we said that he had been elected Chancellor of St Andrews University. The University of St Andrews has asked us to point out that Stanley Adams was, in fact, its student-elected Rector from 1985 to 1988.