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1974: 'Drowned' Stonehouse found alive

Former UK minister John Stonehouse has been found living under a false name in Australia after apparently faking his own death.

He was detained under an immigration law by Melbourne police at the seaside resort of St Kilda, where he told officers his name was Donald Clive Mildoon.

He is due to appear before a magistrate on Boxing Day and it is thought he is being held for entering the country with a false passport.

Mr Stonehouse, 49, was feared drowned after vanishing on a business trip to Miami Beach on 20 November.

He vanished while swimming in the sea and there was no trace of him but for the pile of clothes he left behind on the beach.

His wife, Barbara, is expected to travel to Australia to meet him although it is understood she did not know he was still alive.

Forged passports

The Labour MP for Walsall North is currently being questioned by police after they revealed their first interview with him proved "inconclusive" and he has been driven to a central police station.

It is thought he may have a second forged passport because he arrived in Australia from Hawaii on 27 November bearing the name J D Norman.

It has emerged he then left the country the following day and travelled between Singapore, Denmark and the Lebanon before returning to Australia around 10 December.

Melbourne police's "dog squad", so called because they hunt in packs, had placed Mr Stonehouse under surveillance from 10 December after a tip-off from overseas.

There are unconfirmed reports they believed him to be the missing Lord Lucan who disappeared after his children's nanny was found dead.

The re-emergence of the MP, once tipped as a future Labour leader, on the other side of the world has stunned Parliament and his colleagues at Westminster.

A Whitehall source said his future in Parliament was uncertain but it is too early in the proceedings to comment on whether he could be expelled.

In Context
Mr Stonehouse was planning to set up a new life in Australia with his former secretary Sheila Buckley, a 28-year-old divorcee.

He was deported to Britain where in August 1976 he was convicted and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment on 18 counts of theft, fraud and deception after a marathon 68-day trial.

The charges related to a string of failed fraudulent businesses set up before his disappearance.

Ms Buckley was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, suspended for two years, for her part in Mr Stonehouse's get-rich-quick schemes.

He left prison three years later, recovering from open heart surgery, after he suffered three heart attacks during his time in prison.

Mr Stonehouse and Ms Buckley married in 1981.

He died in 1988 aged 62.


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