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EDITIONS
Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Jeremy Thorpe Meets Norman Scott
Jeremy Thorpe
When Jeremy Thorpe met Norman Scott: Acquitted and ill, should Jeremy Thorpe now be tried on TV.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
When Jeremy Thorpe met Norman Scott. If this is trial by TV, you are part of the jury, what is your verdict?

ADAM MARS-JONES:
It's shabby, I'm not sure that I'm opposed to the idea of this. Thorpe did not appear in this or testify in court. It's badly done with a stupid little reconstruction of a cigarette in an ashtray and annoying bits of music.

But it could be an incredibly funny story about how small and pathetic British sins are. The idea of ten minutes in a love nest on your way home to your wife. The idea of blackmail, which may not have been blackmail. The little scene on Bodmin Moor with the dog, everything is so laughable.

It could be terrible funny. The last word which was full of first-hand impressions on court, rather than everything rehashed, with an easy ride given to a rather unreliable witness.

MARK LAWSON:
Germaine Greer, the friends and family have complained this is trial by television, a man found not guilty. They think it's unfair, do you think it is?

GERMAINE GREER:
I think it's inexcusable. It's cheap television, cheaper than doing a decent drama, also cheaper than investigating it properly.

I was dying to know who owns the house that Norman Scott is living in now. How can they not tell us that? He is living in a wealth of exposed beams, stone outhouses, surrounded by geese, horses. Somebody is paying for that. As far as we can discover, he is incapable of earning a living.

If we are doing the story, you find out about things, about the first employer with whom he fell out. I don't believe he was inexperienced. I believe he was used to exploiting sexual contacts with a way of making a living. Also, his ridiculous voice? Where did he get that accent? It's a fake voice.

MARK LAWSON:
Tim Lott. We have two novelists around the table, I thought that the poetic details were great. It goes on and on.

TIM LOTT:
What is a very sad story, which resulted in the destruction of a man and his political career, I feel guilty about laughing in this documentary. I know I should not do so. There are terribly serious issues. But some of the issues were straight out of Ealing comedies.

When the alleged assassination attempt to hurt the dog, as far I can make out goes, he's an airline pilot, that is not explained. They decided to do a hit on Scott. He's bored. But that's all we ever learn about him.

It also struck me as very cheap. But I do think, the scene when he comes out with his gun to shoot, ostensibly to shoot Norman, and instead of running away, Norman Scott runs back towards him. All very confusing. I don't understand what is going on.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
We need hard questions of even a soft interview. Why did he write to Thorpe's mother?

TIM LOTT:
That is a crucial piece of information. There is inclination he has been paid, why else is he doing this?

MARK LAWSON:
There is endless stuff about his national insurance documents?.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
Why you couldn't say it was lost on a bus. Even the choice to do the voice over, I kept getting hints of blackberry, and I knew it was a wine critic. The impulse is to laugh. When he says, "I wanted to go to a dressage school in France." The urge to giggle is strong.

TIM LOTT:
But it is served up as cheap entertainment.

GERMAINE GREER:
But it did not do Jeremy much harm.

MARK LAWSON:
But they appear to be suggesting, that there was a real chance of this man becoming Prime Minister when representing a party with 20 seats. But you don't need to oversell it. This is our Watergate. A fantastic story.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
But to call it the trial of the century is overselling it.

MARK LAWSON:
It's pre-Archer.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
But post Barbie.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
26 Apr 02 | Panel
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