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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Currie claims 'I've rewritten history'
Edwina Currie
Edwina Currie arrives for a BBC interview
Former Tory MP Edwina Currie has told the BBC she was part of "the making of a prime minister" as she defended going public on her affair with ex-lover John Major.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour she said she also wished she had revealed the fling sooner.

He behaved in an atrocious fashion and it's a shame.

Edwina Currie

Earlier, on BBC Radio Five Live, in her first interview since the affair was revealed, Mrs Currie rounded on Mr Major, calling his behaviour "atrocious", and describing his back to basics campaign when prime minister as "evil".

In the interviews she sought to justify her decision to go public: "It was about time that, in every sense, the history books were written accurately.

"A lot of newspapers have said that history is going to have to be rewritten and I think that is right."

She stressed: "It was very much part of history. I was part of the making of a prime minister."


Her diaries, being serialised in The Times, revealed on Saturday that Ms Currie had a four year affair from 1984 to 1988 with fellow Tory MP John Major, who went on to become UK prime minister from 1990 to 1997.

Mrs Currie denied that revenge or desire for money had been the motivation for revealing the affair, saying: "If that had been the case I'd have done it while he was prime minister."


I feel cleansed - I have been carrying this secret for a very long time on other people's behalf

Edwina Currie

As to why now, she said all involved were out of power, her ex-husband engaged to be remarried, her children grown up, and the knowledge that Norma Major had known of the affair "I can't quite see why it is damaging now".

Later on Wednesday Mr Major is also making his first public appearance since the story broke, to deliver a lecture at a charity dinner in Dalls, Texas.

But a spokesman for the former prime minister denied reports that he would be making a statement or answer questions on his personal life at a news conference.


Mrs Currie told Woman's Hour her daughters had been ignorant of her affair with Mr Major: "They didn't know, I didn't tell anyone."

And in her Five Live interview Mrs Currie said "I feel cleansed - I have been carrying this secret for a very long time on other people's behalf."
The Times
Mrs Currie revealed the affair in The Times

Mrs Currie attacked as "complete fiction" stories claiming that Norma Major had ended the affair.

"I ended it by writing to John," she said, adding that the reason had been his promotion to Cabinet which meant that he would have had to give his bodyguards "the slip" to meet.

Mrs Currie attacked John Major's record in not appointing women to his first Cabinet, and to his decision to offer her the "crap" job in charge of prisons in 1992.

'Burden to bear'

Asked why she had decided to go public at all, she said: "The picture that had been painted of those years, particularly the 1980s was a little limited and I had the answer to an awful lot of questions.


Just like we're always embarrassed by what our children do, our children are sometime embarrassed by what we do or have done in the past

Edwina Currie
"I hung on to those answers until they could do no more damage and it then seemed to me to be appropriate to set the picture straight.

"This has been quite a burden to bear. I chose to bear it until it could do no further damage. I mean nobody concerned is still in power; nobody involved is going to have a career wrecked by it."

Effect on family

She was asked about the effect of the publication on her family - including the negative references to her ex-husband in the diaries.

Mrs Currie said of her ex-husband that there were also "many times that we had that were very good, very enjoyable and very close. Those are also in the diaries. I mean, we were married for 29 years which is more than, shall we say, an awful lot of my critics. Those who are without sin can cast the first stone".

She continued: "He is now happily resettled... and I think we are all able now to move on."


This looks like a staid British version of Clintonian lust

Michael Murphy, USA


Asked if her daughters were surprised Mrs Currie said: "I think they were a little surprised.

"In real life, just like we're always embarrassed by what our children do, our children are sometime embarrassed by what we do or have done in the past.

"But it's a long time ago. Let me think... the affair started in 1984 and it finished in 1988 so that's 14 years ago. They were little girls then, they're grown women now with their own lives."

Meanwhile, in the latest instalment of her diaries she says she warned Mr Major to not be too close to Mrs Thatcher during her fall from power and claims Mr Major considered voice coaching to sound "less strangulated and squeaky".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Many conservatives think it's all about selling books"
The BBC's Emma Simpson
"John Major changed his mind about a long standing press conference"
Edwina Currie
"It does some good to set the picture straight"

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01 Oct 02 | UK
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