Letter: Rees-Mogg caricature

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The Independent Online
Sir: As one of his oldest friends, I am appalled by the gross caricature of William Rees-Mogg in your Profile (24 July). I note that all his friends who have so sweepingly criticised him in your article have chosen to remain anonymous, except for Simon Raven, an eccentric novelist.

I knew both William's parents and he never talked about the grandeur of his background. He was, as you say, the son of a Somerset landowner who was married to a charming American and never pretended to be anything else.

When I first met him he was a leader writer on the Financial Times. I found that he and I agreed on most political issues. In particular, we were appalled when Harold Macmillan deliberately misled the Queen into thinking that the Conservative Party wished to have Lord Home as its leader, in 1963, rather than the late R A Butler. It so happens that we were lunching together at the Carlton Club on the day that Lord Home was sent for by the Queen. We knew that Rab Butler and his wife were lunching in the annexe of the club and both of us urged Rab to refuse to serve. If he had, he would undoubtedly have become prime minister.

The most important article that William ever wrote was in the Sunday Times in July 1965, which said that, since the Conservative Party had adopted a process of electing a leader, which I had pioneered, Sir Alec Douglas-Home should resign. Both of us liked and admired Sir Alec, but we did not feel that he was the right man to lead the Conservative Party and it was this article which lead to his resignation.

William was, in my view, the best editor of the Times since the War. I find it odd that you should have criticised so strongly somebody who, for a number of years, until recently, wrote a regular column for your newspaper.

Yours faithfully,

HUMPHREY BERKELEY

London, W4

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