A Very English Scandal Summary By John Preston

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A Very English Scandal is an explosive account of former British politician Jeremy Thorpe's affair with Norman Scott.

This gripping true-crime narrative spans three decades and dissects the inner workings of establishment privilege and power.

It details how a botched assassination, a biased murder trial, and petty yet powerful relationships within the British Elite result in a scandal that manages to evade justice for years.

Through interviews with key players in the case and gripping courtroom drama, we remain on the edge of our seats as this true story of corruption unfolds.

A Very English Scandal

Book Name: A Very English Scandal (Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment)

Author(s): John Preston

Rating: 3.9/5

Reading Time: 13 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

John Preston is an experienced writer with a lengthy history in the journalism industry.

He was the former arts editor for newspapers The Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph, and also spent ten years as the paper's television critic.

In addition to his experience in print media, he has also written fiction - his novel The Dig was published in 2007.

His works demonstrate not only his knowledge of his topics but also the capacity to tell a compelling story that will keep readers captivated until the very last page.

Uncovering the Unfairness of the British Judicial System: The Jeremy Thorpe Story

British Judicial

The story of Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal Party politician connected to the British elite, is a shocking reminder that not even murder allegations can stop the powerful.

Despite being accused of attempted murder, Thorpe was able to evade conviction due to his connections with the Establishment.

These sections will uncover how money meant for “electoral reform” was instead funneled into an alleged murder attempt.

You’ll find out why Police changed a statement from a key witness and learn about other crimes the Establishment have tried to cover up.

The Jeremy Thorpe case serves as a flashing warning sign that those at the top may be able to get away with just about anything.

Jeremy Thorpe and the Power of a Threatened Reputation

Jeremy Thorpe was a powerful politician.

He rose up the ranks to eventually become the leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976, enjoying a spotless public image.

All the while, however, he had an unsavory secret: he was a closeted homosexual.

He knew that if his sexuality were ever revealed, it would mean certain ruin for him and his career.

And yet he was not above taking risks when it came to his affairs.

His arrogance made him believe that despite any indiscretions, he could use his charms and powerful friends to clear himself of any sticky situations that may arise.

One such relationship brought about a series of events that exposed Jeremy Thorpe’s true identity.

It all began with young dressage rider Norman Scott – whom Thorpe met through a friend of his and quickly took a shine to – who said their first encounter was not consensual as Thorpe had raped Scott during their first sexual encounter.

Although initially hidden away, Scott’s obsession with Thorpe kept him in danger sometime into the 1960s; Scott traveled around telling stories of his affair with the prominent politician – which because homosexual activities were still illegal at this time- posed significant risk to both him and Thorpe’s political career.

In desperation, he even went so far as to contact Thorpe’s mother asking for money; this desperate act caught the attention of Jeremy Thorpe and led him to realize outside help was necessary in order to keep Scott’s behavior in check and prevent further disaster for them both.

The Power of Loyalty: How Two Friends Helped Save a Politician from His Own Demands

When scandal threatened to ruin Jeremy Thorpe’s political career, two close Friends came together to help him out.

David Holmes was a close Friend of Thorpe since their days at Oxford University, and Peter Bessell made up the other Friend.

Thorpe had used his powerful connections to give Bessell financial support for his failing business ventures and Jack Hayward was defrauded hundreds of thousands of pounds to continue these businesses.

There is still speculation today on whether or not there was ever a sexual relationship between Thorpe and Holmes, but one thing remains certain – Holmes’ loyalty toward Thorpe never wavered.

Bessell may not have been as intimate with Thorpe’s circle of Friends, but he admired the politician for some time; this admiration led him to also agree in helping Thorpe out of his difficult situation.

The two Friends agreed that only an extreme measure known as “the ultimate solution” would be needed, though they were hesitant in supporting its suggestion – murder.

Instead they continued to send Scott money and kept him away from London while waiting for the problem to solve itself in some way or another.

Sadly it wasn’t enough to make Scott be quiet – something drastic still remained unavoidable if Thorpe wanted to keep his reputation intact.

License Plate Clue that Led to the Unraveling of a High-Stakes Political Cover Up

License Plate

When Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party, asked for a generous donation of £17,000 in 1975 to fund his election reform campaign, little did anyone know that only £10,000 of this money would actually go towards the greater good of the party.

Instead, this money was deposited into a separate account belonging to Thorpe’s godfather and was earmarked to pay for a hired killer who would take down Scott.

This plan was orchestrated by Thorpe’s associate Peter Holmes who had been tasked with finding someone willing to commit murder-for-hire.

As luck would have it, Holmes found an airline pilot named Andrew Newton who seemed happy to accept the job and was promised anywhere between £5,000-£10,000 for completing it.

Scott caught on when he noticed something suspicious about Newton asking him for a ride and ended up jotting down Newton’s license plate number as precautionary measure.

One fateful day in Exmoor south west England Andrew attempted to carry out his mission but failed when his gun jammed as he tried to shoot Scott – instead only managing to kill his dog.

How the British Establishment Used Its Influence to Protect Jeremy Thorpe From Attempted Murder Charges

In 1979, history was made when British MP Jeremy Thorpe stood trial for attempted murder – a first in British Parliament.

His downfall began when his relationship with Norman Scott became publicly known.

The links between Scott and Thorpe’s former friend and colleague Peter Bessell were too incriminating, so when Bessel agreed to testify in court, criminal charges against Thorpe had to be brought forward.

Unbeknownst to Thorpe at the time, Bessel was granted immunity for testifying against him by the prosecution.

Another former associate of Thorpe’s, George Carman, took on the task of defending him in court, despite his other two accomplices apparently having planned the murder independently.

As this case unfolded in front of the eyes of Britain’s media frenzy and led by prominent journalists such as Auberon Waugh – son of author Evelyn Waugh – public sentiment leaned firmly against the politician.

Despite knowing this fact, Thorpe remained confident that he would soon be bestowed with a peerage from within Britain’s Establishment.

He made countless attempts until 1999 but failed every single time due to all that evidence that had been gathered against him during trial.

The British Establishment’s Corruption Revealed: How the Thorpe Affair Exemplifies Its Protections for Insiders


The British Establishment is often known for looking out for its own, and that could have been the case in the Thorpe affair.

From questionable decisions made by Lord Elwyn-Jones to appoint a judge, to rumors of the assistant director of public prosecutions interfering with a deal between Bessell and the Sunday Telegraph, there were many signs that members of the Establishment were working together to protect Thorpe and ensure he didn’t end up behind bars.

Lord Elwyn-Jones chose his personal friend Joseph Cantley as the judge for Thorpe’s criminal trial—a man who was rumored to have abstained from sex until being 56 years old.

With what some saw as his biased leanings towards Thorpe, he declared during closing remarks that jury would need to be 100% certain of guilty if they voted accordingly.

It has even been speculated that Kenneth Dowling, assistant director of public prosecutions, may have encouraged Bessell’s agreement with the Sunday Telegraph in order to discredit Bessell’s testimony and protect Thorpe.

This wouldn’t be far-fetched either given other examples of the British Establishment protecting their own at any cost, regardless of justice or fairness.

The Establishment: Power Over People – When Politicians Put Their Reputations Before Justice

The case of former Liberal member of Parliament Cyril Smith and his 114 complaints of child molestation is just one example of the British Establishment caring more about preserving political reputations than serving justice.

Police officers were not even allowed to make any allegations public, as they were threatened with losing their positions if they stirred up trouble.

This is unfortunately nothing new.

Other cases – such as that involving former leader Jeremy Thorpe – have shown that the Establishment would rather do anything to protect its own reputation than take responsibility for prior wrongdoings.

In Thorpe’s case, even friend Jimmy Savile endorsed him during an election campaign – an indication that his wrongdoings had been accepted, or at least swept under the rug.

Jimmy Savile’s brother also stood as a Liberal candidate in Battersea North and was accused of sexually assaulting mentally ill patients he was supposedly helping while working as a recreation officer in Tooting after his death.

All of these cases show us that when it comes to scandal, those in power prefer shrouding them in secrecy rather than admitting their wrongdoings and taking appropriate action against them.

Wrap Up

The final summary of A Very English Scandal is very clear.

It emphasizes that in politics, there’s often hidden corruption and wrongdoing that may not come to light.

In the case of Jim Thorpe, his misdeeds and abuses of power eventually came to light in a highly public and media-covered scandal.

However, it was thanks to influence at high levels that the mess was cleaned up and justice—in a sense—was served.

This book serves as an excellent reminder of what happens when people are not held accountable for their actions.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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