Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Middle East

Darius Guppy’s back – and now he’s Iranian

Disgraced Old Etonian breaks 13-year silence with attack on West’s ‘moral poison’

He was born with good looks, intelligence and the connections to match, and once moved in the finest circles at Eton and Oxford, where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club and a contemporary of Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

Then Darius Guppy fell into obscurity for 13 years following an insurance scam and a spell in prison – until now. Now he uses an opinion piece in The Independent to launch an extraordinary attack on Western civilisation.

In an essay about Iran, Mr Guppy says Britain has become an "urban hell" and a dispenser of "moral poison" whose citizens are enslaved by a "culture of consumerism".

Mr Guppy, whose mother was Iranian and who frequently visits the country on business, told The Independent he no longer recognised Britain, the country of his birth.

He said: "Very often, people ask me: 'Darius, why do you feels so antipathetic towards England and the West? After all, England is your country.' My response is always the same: the question is not whether England is my country, it is whether England still is a country. What the hell is England any more?"

Throughout the piece, he refers to British citizens as "you" and Iranians as "we". He also insists that most Iranians view the West "with horror".

Mr Guppy's grandfather, Mohammed Kazem Assar, was an Iranian ayatollah and philosopher who taught at Tehran University. Among his students was Ayatollah Khomeini, the famous Iranian revolutionary leader.

In his piece, he pours scorn on the idea that the Iranian elections were rigged, and expresses the wish that Iran will become a "core state around which other nations that cherish freedom can coalesce".

It is a sudden and surprising return to the public eye for Mr Guppy, who left the UK in 1996 after being released from prison for fraud. In 1993 he suffered a spectacular fall from grace after it emerged that he and a friend had paid someone to tie them up and fake a robbery in New York so that he could claim £1.8m in insurance. After serving three years in jail, he disappeared to South Africa and continues to live in Cape Town.

In his essay, he writes: "Visit Iran and you will see a people polite, hospitable, cultured, noble and brave. Look at Britain's urban hell and you will see young girls and boys armed with knives, swearing, half naked, vomiting the previous night's attempt to stifle their pain and their emptiness.

"Turn on the radio and listen to ladettes boasting about what they did with their boyfriends in bed the day before, but tune in to Iran's airwaves and you will hear poetry and beautiful music."

Earlier this month, Mr Guppy wrote a letter to this newspaper criticising the widespread assumption that Iran's elections had been fixed. He also referred to Westerners as "mindless, McDonald's-munching slaves of Mammon". A debate on the letters page ensued, and today's essay is Mr Guppy's rejoinder.

In the piece, he argues that Iran is not a repressed society, but in fact enjoys more freedoms than the UK, which he calls "a genuine police state". He describes the idea that the Iranian people long for democracy as "a proposition that smacks as much of arrogance as of Fukuyaman hubris".

In March this year, 20-year-old tapes emerged of a secret telephone conversation between Mr Guppy and his friend Boris Johnson, then a journalist at The Daily Telegraph. Mr Guppy wanted Mr Johnson to track down a News of the World journalist who had been investigating his affairs, so that he could hire someone to beat him up.

Mr Guppy was formerly a close friend of Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother, and was best man at his wedding to Victoria Lockwood. But the pair fell out after he accused the Earl of trying to seduce his wife Patricia while he was in prison.