Disgraced former minister Lord Lambton dies

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The Independent Online

The former defence minister Lord Lambton, who resigned after he was photographed smoking cannabis in bed with two prostitutes, has died aged 84 at his Italian home.

His death was announced in a notice in his local paper, La Nazione, on Saturday, and people locally said his body would be taken to Siena for cremation following a private funeral service.

Antony Lambton had been a Conservative MP for 22 years when in 1973 rumours in Fleet Street and Westminster linked him with a "top-level vice scandal" reported in the News of the World, which had received the pictures.

Regarded as a brilliant and ambitious politician, he was Royal Air Force minister when the scandal broke.

Lord Lambton offered his resignation "for personal and health reasons", but the next day he issued his own "no excuses" statement about "certain events of the last few months".

He moved to Italy soon after his resignation, purchasing the Villa Cetinale, a 400-year-old Italian estate, where he died.

His statement said: "During this period I had a casual acquaintance with a call girl and one or two of her friends. I have no excuses whatsoever to make.

"I behaved with credulous stupidity. There has been no high life, vice ring, no security leak, no blackmail, and as far as I know, no politician of any party is remotely connected with these events."

Later that year Mr Heath appointed the Diplock Commission to investigate security issues surrounding the involvement of Lord Lambton, and Lord Jellicoe, the Leader of the House of Lords, with prostitutes. Lord Jellicoe also resigned.

The commission found no security breaches, but said Lord Lambton had laid himself wide open to blackmail by his use of drugs and the fact that photographs existed of "sexual practices deviating from the normal" .

Also in 1973 he was fined £300 at Marylebone magistrates' court for illegal possession of cannabis and amphetamine tablets.

Lord Lambton, who was the MP for Berwick Upon Tweed, was married to Belinda Blew Jones, who died three years ago. The couple had five children.