Mystery as 'Miss Whiplash' vanishes

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THE self-styled leader of the Corrective Party, Lindi St Clair, has disappeared. Her car was found abandoned at a cliff-top suicide spot in East Sussex.

But after two helicopter searches, Sussex police believe there is no trace of her in the sea off Beachy Head cliffs, near Eastbourne, where her hired Jaguar was found on Sunday. They are appealing for Miss St Clair or anyone who saw her at the weekend to come forward.

Miss St Clair, who calls herself Miss Whiplash, was last seen at the Hospitality Inn, Brighton, at 10am on Saturday. She arrived in the early hours and booked a room until Monday. She had intended to 'dish the dirt' on MPs and peers whom she alleges were her clients, after what she saw as an unfair tax demand for pounds 112,000.

She claims her clients included 178 Conservative MPs, 46 Conservative Lords, 87 Labour MPs and 18 Labour Lords. She was planning a press conference to publicise their names. Last week she asked the Independent to run an advertisement for it 'after being forced into bankruptcy'. Her offer to settle the tax bill with a pounds 20,000 payment had been refused by Inland Revenue.

On Saturday she told a Brighton reporter, thought to be the last person she spoke to before she disappeared, that she was being followed. Her advertisement was to announce 'a public exhibition of her secret letters, photographs, cine films, videos and audio tapes portraying her male and female clients from both sides of the Houses of Commons and Lords during the past nine governments and opposition'.

Keith Winsper, of the Brighton Evening Argus, said he arranged to meet her on Saturday at 3pm at her hotel. She did not appear despite confirming the time earlier that day. 'She had said on the phone she was worried she was being followed and that seemed to be preying on her mind.

'She also mentioned she had some powerful enemies. She said she hoped one of her more influential clients would put pressure on the tax authorities to accept pounds 20,000 as complete payment.'

Police said last night that a search of her home in Westcombe Park, south-east London revealed 'nothing untoward.'

A friend said Miss St Clair always maintained she had a dossier. 'She said she had an elaborate protection system for it if anything happened to her.'

Judy Piatkus, owner of Piatkus Books, which published her autobiography in September, said she could not believe Miss St Clair would commit suicide.