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1978: Liberal MP accused of murder plot
MP Jeremy Thorpe has been accused in court of plotting to kill his former homosexual lover and dispose of the body.

The former Liberal Party leader is charged with David Holmes, George Deakin and John le Mesurier of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott.

Mr Thorpe, 49, is also accused alone of inciting Mr Holmes to murder Mr Scott - with whom the MP is alleged to have had an affair in the early 1960s.

The evidence was heard at a committal hearing in Minehead, Somerset, and can be made public after a request from one of the defendant's solicitors to lift the usual reporting restrictions.

Prosecution counsel Peter Taylor QC said Mr Thorpe had become very anxious Mr Scott would reveal details of their relationship after it ended in 1963, and irrevocably damage his reputation.

'We have to get rid of him'

The courtroom heard how the party leader had discussed the problem of Mr Scott with fellow Liberal MP Peter Bessell.

The QC said Mr Thorpe told his friend at a meeting in the House of Commons: "We have to get rid of him."

The prosecution also said it had evidence the Liberal leader had:

  • incited deputy treasurer of the Liberal Party David Holmes to kill Mr Scott
  • later plotted with John le Mesurier and George Deakin to murder him
  • hired airline pilot Andrew Newton to carry out the assassination
  • diverted Liberal Party funds to pay 5,000 to Mr Newton

The pilot had been jailed for two years in 1976 after shooting Mr Scott's dog on a lonely stretch of Exmoor, but no connection with the politician came out at the time.

Mr Thorpe has denied both charges and insisted the alleged affair never took place.

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Jeremy Thorpe MP
MP Jeremy Thorpe: denies all charges


In Context
The magistrates committed the case to trial on 13 December.

Proceedings began at the Old Bailey in May 1979 - just after the general election in which Mr Thorpe lost his seat.

All four defendants were cleared of the charges a month later, but the case destroyed the MP's career and he did not return to politics.

A drama-documentary giving Norman Scott's side of the story was broadcast in July 2002 by ITV and was condemned by many as a retrial by television.

Mr Thorpe had declined to be interviewed for the programme.

The John le Mesurier accused with Jeremy Thorpe was not the actor of the same name who starred in the BBC series Dad's Army.

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