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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Rupert Allason: No stranger to the courtroom
Rupert Allason
Rupert Allason leaving court after his defeat on Tuesday
Nyta Mann

Rupert Allason is no stranger to the High Court, having chalked up more than two dozen actions.

Rupert William Simon Allason
Born - 8 Nov 1951
Education - Downside, Grenoble University, London University
Special constable - 1975 - 1982
Tory MP for Torbay - 1987 - 1997
Pen name - Nigel West
Books include Spy!, MI5 - British Security Operations 1909-45; A Matter of Trust - MI5 1945-72; Molehunt; Seven Spies who Changed the World; The Secret War for the Falklands
They are usually for libel and he usually wins. But his latest legal episode launches into public currency the fireproof description of "a profoundly dishonest man", as Mr Justice Laddie has now judged him.

Whether the onetime Conservative MP for Torbay prefers that to "a conniving little s**t", which is what a Have I Got News for You diary called him - he sued; they won - is not yet known.

Like a character from one of his spy novels (his pen name is Nigel West), 49-year-old Mr Allason carries a whiff of exotica - fast cars, Bermudan holidays, membership of White's and his Who's Who-listed hobby of "sailing close to the wind".

'Bermuda Triangle'

The dilettante author's latest political venture, having lost his Commons seat in 1997 by just 12 votes, is the fight against the single European currency.

Last summer he joined Edward Fox, Claus Von Bulow, Cleo Rocos and Nicky Haslam when an odd collection celebrities, aristocratic socialites and jet-setters gathered for the launch of Jemima Khan's Democracy Movement.

It was on Europe too that Mr Allason caused severe headaches for the Tory whips.

As John Major's prime ministership lurched from crisis to crisis, every MP's vote counting as the tiny Conservative parliamentary majority dwindled away after 1992, Mr Allason rebelled over Maastricht and then became the only Tory to refuse to back his government in a no confidence motion.

He disappeared - to his Caribbean home, it was rumoured; hence the nickname "Bermuda Triangle".

He lost the Tory whip for almost a year as a result. "If we weren't in such a bad way he would absolutely never have got it back at all," said a furious whip at the time.

Wealthy family

That rules did not suit him was an early discovery, when the discipline of the private Catholic boarding school Downside put him off a military career: "It cured me of my ambition to join the army."

His own time in uniform was confined to his services as a special constable from 1975 to 1982.

Mr Allason comes from a well-heeled Tory family, growing up in Chelsea, his father, James, the former MP for Hemel Hempstead.

He attended Grenoble and then London Universities, and it was as a student that his fascination with the glamorous end of the spook trade really took hold.

While reading English at London University, he carried out research for Ronald Seth, a second world war veteran, and for Richard Deacon, ex-foreign editor of the Sunday Times.

Plays the Lottery

After several attempts he made it into the Commons in 1987.

After Labour's landslide swept him out of his seat a decade later and following the death of Kensington & Chelsea MP Alan Clark, he tried for a return to Westminster but the selection went instead to Michael Portillo.

Mr Allason is acknowledged to be highly informed on the intelligence services, having produced a string of books on MI5, MI6 and cold war battles with the KGB.

He once confessed to being an occasional player of the National Lottery, saying that if he won: "I would buy a place in the Caribbean".

The legal gamble he lost last October, when a judge ruled he must face Contempt of Court charges, left him with a rare defeat to add to his courtroom score-card.

He will be hoping this latest appearance doesn't mean a second.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Former Tory MP 'profoundly dishonest'
09 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Tory Euro-sceptic considers defection
13 Sep 99 | Britain betrayed
The Cambridge spy ring
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