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1983: Parkinson quits over lovechild scandal

Cecil Parkinson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has resigned.

The decision comes as fresh details were revealed about his extramarital affair with his former secretary Sara Keays.

Miss Keays published a statement in The Times newspaper today to "put the record straight" regarding the nature of their relationship.

Her statement criticises Mr Parkinson's conduct and attitude towards their relationship and the revelation that she was pregnant with his child.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had initially stood by her Trade and Industry Secretary, but accepted his offer of resignation at the Conservative party conference early this morning.

After returning from the conference Mr Parkinson made no comment to reporters assembled outside his Hertfordshire home.

In a statement issued through his solicitor, Mr Parkinson referred back to his original statement of 5 October where he admitted the affair but said no more questions would be answered on the matter.

'Quite broken'

Friends of Mr Parkinson say he is "quite broken", that he does not entirely accept Miss Keay's version of events, and that he has no plans to give up his parliamentary seat.

In her statement Sara Keays said that Mr Parkinson had not been as frank about the affair as he had claimed.

She added that media comment, government pronouncements and continued speculation had placed her "in an impossible position".

She said she had a "duty" to speak out about her relationship with Mr Parkinson, after perceiving that the full facts had not been made public.

Miss Keays denied suggestions that she had tried to trick Mr Parkinson into marriage or that she had sought to destroy his reputation.

"My baby was conceived in a long-standing, loving relationship which I allowed to continue because I believed in our eventual marriage," she said.

She also said that pressure on her to remain silent would cast doubt on her own reputation and the child's "fundamental right" to know its father's identity.

Cecil Parkinson has held several senior positions in the government since 1979, and was credited as the mastermind behind the Tories' successful general election campaign in June.

In Context
According to Miss Keays, Cecil Parkinson twice proposed to her but each time changed his mind. He saved his existing marriage after the 12 year affair and returned to government in 1987.

Under William Hague he became Conservative Party Chairman again in 1997, and became a life peer in the House of Lords.

Flora Keays was born on New Years Eve 1983. After court orders to protect her privacy until 18, she appeared on Channel 4 in January 2002 saying she missed knowing her father.

Mr Parkinson was the fourth Tory MP at the time to hit the headlines for scandal since Thatcher gained power in 1979.


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