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1979: Thorpe cleared of murder charges
Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has walked out of the Old Bailey a free man, after a jury cleared him of the attempted murder of Norman Scott.

Mr Thorpe, who resigned as leader in 1976 amid allegations that he had had a homosexual affair with Mr Scott, hailed his acquittal as "a complete vindication".

Mr Thorpe and three other men were charged with conspiracy to murder, after the bungled assassination attempt of Mr Scott on a deserted moor in Southern England.

All were found not guilty. It took the jury 15 hours of deliberation spread over three days to reach its verdict. Mr Thorpe was also acquitted on a charge of inciting one of his co-defendants, David Holmes, to murder Mr Scott.

I have always maintained that I was innocent
Jeremy Thorpe

The trial lasted 31 days but Mr Thorpe's ordeal began when he was charged last August.

Although he was found not guilty, the case has probably ruined Mr Thorpe's political career.

As the verdict was read out he sat motionless. Afterwards he leant over to give his wife a long kiss.

Speaking later he said: "I have always maintained that I was innocent of the charges brought against me and the verdict of the jury, after a prolonged and careful investigation by them, I regard as totally fair and a complete vindication."

He added that he would be taking "a short period of rest" away from the glare of publicity.

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Jeremy Thorpe
Mr Thorpe always said he was innocent

Thorpe and co-defendants leave court


In Context
Jeremy Thorpe's political career was indeed ruined by the case.

Mr Thorpe had risen to prominence in 1967 when he became leader of the Liberal Party, but stepped down in 1976 as Norman Scott's allegations about their relationship surfaced.

At the May general election, shortly before the trial began, the voters of north Devon threw him out of the Parliamentary seat he had held for 20 years.

In 1999, two decades after disappearing from public life, Mr Thorpe published his memoirs in which he asserted that he never had any doubt about the acquittal of all the defendants on trial.

Mr Thorpe, who now suffers from Parkinson's Disease, is president of the North Devon Liberal Association.

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