Andy McSmith's Diary: Portsmouth South have been left all at sea over MPs

The surprise winner was the current MP, Mike Hancock, who apologised last month to a vulnerable constituent for inappropriate behaviour

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Witnesses are coming forward offering to give evidence to the inquiry into child abuse that was going to be carried out by Baroness Butler-Sloss. They include the adopted child of a Tory MP named Ralph Bonner Pink, who has told the Sunday Express that Pink sexually abused her, and had her packed off to Broadmoor when she was 16 to keep her quiet.

Pink died in 1984, causing a by-election in Portsmouth South, in which the Tory candidate was Patrick Rock, later one of David Cameron’s special advisers, who was charged last month with possessing images of child abuse. He lost the seat.

The surprise winner was the current MP, Mike Hancock, who apologised last month to a vulnerable constituent for inappropriate behaviour. May the voters of Portsmouth South have better luck in their next MP.

With friends like these... Another potential witness, Anthony Gilberthorpe, has offered via the Sunday Mirror to name senior Conservatives who he says were at a party with rent boys in 1983. He is not someone you would want to trust as a friend.

A Conservative MP named Piers Merchant did, having known him for years. In 1997, Merchant stupidly began an affair with a teenager, and asked his friend whether they could make secret use of his spare room during a week when Mrs Merchant thought that her husband was at the Conservative conference. Gilberthorpe agreed, and played the part of the indulgent host, but hid a camera in the bedroom, and sold the story to the Mirror.

Graphic video images of the couple in the bedroom were broadcast on the Mirror’s cable TV channel, Live TV, without regard to the impact such exposure might have on an 18-year-old woman. Merchant, who quit the Commons and is now dead, was told that Gilberthorpe’s alleged reward for this endeavour was £25,000.

In the dock

“Rapists are set to serve shorter jail sentences under controversial new guidelines being drawn up for judges,” warned the Sunday Telegraph, on 12 March 2006. “The move could cut a year off the average seven-year sentence handed out to convicted rapists….”

This piece of writing appeared under the byline of the then home affairs correspondent, Ben Leapman. He is now in custody awaiting sentence after a jury in Kent found him guilty yesterday – of rape.

Balls’s World Cup joy

With the World Cup over, I assume that is the end of the phase when adults could be seen swapping Panini cards in the Houses of Parliament – and very successfully, in the case of the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls who tweeted: “Our office Panini album finally complete – just in time!”

Marxists disunited

Marxists of the world are not united. There is furious argument raging online between defenders and detractors of Lawrence and Wishart, the publishing firm which has one of the Western world’s longest backlist of Marxist writings.

It threatened legal action against an internet publisher, the Marxist Internet Archive, for putting 10 volumes of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels online, in breach of copyright. In the words of one outraged commentator, “L&W has placed bourgeois property rights above the works of two men whose lives embodied the struggle to overcome such rights.”

But the good news for the publishers is that they have a surprise defender in the party that claims to be Britain’s second-oldest, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which says it is wrong to pick on one firm for doing what any publisher would do. Instead we should all “condemn the socio-economic system which has led to the repugnant concept of ‘intellectual property”.