The Thorpe affair of the 1970s was a British political and sex scandal that ended the career of Jeremy Thorpe. The scandal arose from allegations by Norman Josiffe that he and Thorpe had a homosexual relationship in the early 1960s. Thorpe was forced to resign the Liberal leadership in May 1976, and subsequent police investigations led to his being charged with conspiracy to murder.
About Thorpe affair in brief
The Thorpe affair of the 1970s was a British political and sex scandal that ended the career of Jeremy Thorpe. The scandal arose from allegations by Norman Josiffe that he and Thorpe had a homosexual relationship in the early 1960s. Thorpe was forced to resign the Liberal leadership in May 1976, and subsequent police investigations led to his being charged, with three others, with conspiracy to murder Scott. At the trial in May 1979, the prosecution’s case depended heavily on the evidence of Scott, Thorpe’s former parliamentary colleague Peter Bessell, and the hired gunman, Andrew Newton. None of these witnesses impressed the court. In his summing-up the judge was scathing about the prosecution’s evidence, and all four defendants were acquitted. But Thorpe’’s public reputation was damaged irreparably by the case. He had chosen not to testify at the trial, which left several matters unexplained amid public disquiet. Allegations of suppression of evidence by the police before the trial were under investigation from 2015, reaching a culmination in June 2018 when the police said that there was no new evidence and the case would remain closed. He eventually achieved a reconciliation with the North Devon Liberal Democrat constituency party, of which he was honorary president from 1988 until his death in 2014. He attended Eton, then studied law at Trinity College, Oxford, where, having decided on a political career, he was devoted to making a personal impact rather than to his studies.
He became a young politician, but still offered a challenge to an ambitious national platform. In the Hilary term of 1950–51 Thorpe served as President of the Oxford Union. He was adopted as prospective Liberal candidate for the Conservative-held North Devon constituency, where he finished in third place behind Labour and the Lib Dems. In 1951 Thorpe finished third in the general election, using the slogan ‘Reject the Labour Party’. In 1952, while studying at the Inner Temple prior to his call to the bar, he worked tirelessly to promote the Liberal Party. In 1953, he became a prospective Liberal Candidate for the Tory-held Conservative constituency, a position he held until he was offered as prospective candidate for North Devon in the 1951 general election. In 1954, he won the election and was adopted by the Lib-Democrats as a prospective candidate. In 1955, he joined the Liberal Club, which was a declining force in British politics but still a leading party. In 1956 he was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal. In 1958, he lost his seat at Harrow East in a by-election and was forced out of politics. He never again held a position in public life. He died of Parkinson’s disease in the mid-1980s, and he made few public statements afterwards. He is survived by his wife, two children and a stepson, Peter Thorpe, who was a former Liberal Party councillor. He also had a son, Peter, and a daughter, Sarah Thorpe-Thorpe.
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