A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot
at the Heart of the Establishment
by John Preston
Other Books. 340 pages, $27.95
IN 1979, Jeremy Thorpe, a former MP of the British House of Commons and leader of the once powerful Liberal Party in the UK, stood trial for criminal conspiracy and attempted murder. Described by the tabloids as the trial of the century, the case combined two compelling scandals: political ambition and secret homosexual liaisons. While Thorpe, along with three co-conspirators, was ultimately acquitted of attempted murder of Thorpe’s former lover, Norman Scott, the outcome of the trial is really beside the point. As British writer and journalist John Preston shows in this detailed account of Thorpe’s rise and fall in Westminster, stories of political scandal, like murder mysteries, rest on the personalities and private motivations that lie behind the public revelations.