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Rinkagate: The Rise and Fall of Jeremy Thorpe [Paperback]

Simon Freeman , Barrie Penrose
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 July 1997
At 2:34pm on Friday 22 June 1979, the jurors in what had been billed as "The Trial of the Century" filed into Number One Court at the Old Bailey to deliver the verdict on the Rt Hon Jeremy Thorpe, Privy Counsellor, the former MP for North Devon and ex-leader of the Liberal Party. For 30 days, the nine men and three women of the jury had listened, opened-mouthed, like the rest of the country and many millions abroad, as prosecution lawyers tried to prove that Thorpe and three other men had recruited an airline pilot called Andrew Newton to kill Norman Scott, a former male model who claimed that he had once been Thorpe's lover. It had been an extraordinary trial. The star witnesses were Scott, Peter Bessell, a former Liberal MP and failed businessman who had once been Thorpe's confidant, and Newton, who had shot Scott's dog, a Great Dane bitch called Rinka, but failed to murder Scott as ordered. Mr Justice Cantley, the judge, was not impressd with these witnesses and made it clear that, if there was any justice, they should have been in the dock.

Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (17 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747533393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747533399
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering the truth we've known all along 8 Mar 1999
By A Customer
SOME called it the British Watergate, although it was hardly in the Nixon league of abuse of position and power. In 1975, on a lonely moor in Devon, a Great Dane called Rinka was shot as she tried to protect her owner, horse trainer Norman Scott, from a gunman hell-bent on killing him, former airline steward Andrew Newton. Why did Newton try to kill Scott? Many suspected it was because of Scott's repeated claim that he'd been seduced by Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who wanted to silence him once and for all. In 1979, Jeremy Thorpe was cleared of conspiracy to murder at the Old Bailey. Yet many felt that the trial was a whitewash, an orchestrated cover-up by the Establishment who wished to protect Thorpe. Now, years later and with Thorpe's eagerly-awaited memoirs due to be printed, Simon Freeman has teamed up with the man who broke the story, Barrie Penrose, to re-evaluate the Thorpe affair once and for all. And his conclusions are not the sort of thing Mr. Thorpe's lawyers would approve of. The story begins with Thorpe's childhood and schooldays, going on through his early political career at Oxford, where he backstabbed his way to President of the Union, and then it gets interesting. Thorpe's rise to power is superbly documented, as is that fateful night in 1961 when Thorpe allegedly seduced a young stable-boy called Norman Josiffe. Josiffe, aka Scott, never forgot that supposed encounter no matter how hard Thorpe tried to. The rest of the book follows their parallel lives - Thorpe's culminating in being hours away from a Cabinet post and Scott's with repeated nervous breakdowns. Scott hounded Thorpe over the next decade, telling his story to anyone who would hear. The scandal was about to break when a Great Dane was shot in Devon. Coincidence? Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware ambition 30 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Back in the late 1960s I was in Parliament Square when a substantial number of Young Liberals were holding a candlelight vigil outside Westminster Abbey. By arrangement a car arrived and in a procedure lasting less than five minutes the Liberal leader was to alight from the car, receive a candle and be photographed before being driven off to another engagement. That same year I was to witness a deeply distressed man crying loudly outside the Houses of Parliament. I remain convinced that the man was Norman Scott, the architect of Jeremy Thorpe's spectacular departure from the national stage.

In his informative and well crafted book Simon Freeman charts the rise and fall of a gifted political actor whose never still ambition was unable to triumph over human frailty. Freeman describes in thorough detail Thorpe's ill judged friendship with a disturbed groom who was to be overwhelmed by the fixation that this high profile politician was to blame for many of his subsequent misfortunes. Rightly the author does not spare his subject and a reader is soon aware that although Thorpe possessed the natural charisma to win many friends he would quickly abandon even the most loyal if circumstances so demanded.

Freeman draws the reader's attention to two important matters. The one sided view in favour of Thorpe and his co-defendants adopted by the trial judge at the expense of the prosecution witnesses has been well documented but the author also emphasises the point that the money hungry adventurer tasked to frighten or murder Scott was in possession of live rounds well capable of terminating the life of both a human being and a large dog. Scott's mental state has always been the subject of conjecture and his reaction to the death of his great dane was extreme. It is certainly within the bounds of possibility that this obsessive animal lover might have felt compelled to take the bullet. History would have then been very different.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Joe Orton 24 Jun 2002
By A Customer
The Jeremy Thorpe affair is perhaps one of the most complex scandals ever with a myriad subplots including The Postcard, The Missing Suitcase, The Insurance Card, The Dog-In-A_Fog. At the time (the late seventies) the story was never really reported as it should have been, partly due to its complexity, partly due to the inclusion of (in reality non-existent) South African and Security Service dimensions and partly because of a desire to see it as The British Watergate, rather than what it actually is which is a tragi-comic bathetic masterpiece of British bumbling in which high ranking Liberal homosexuals (of the hypocritical old school) embezzle funds from kindly Bahamian millionaires and plot to murder histrionic, animal loving, cooky ex Male Models aided and abetted by a cast of bent solicitors, hypnotising GPs, paranoid ex Prime Ministers and Walter Mittyesque failed airline pilots cum Hitmen. It's a plot that would have left Joe Orton gasping. The author sensibly decides not to overplay his material (which is wise. Was Thorpe guilty as charged (famously he was acquitted)? The author makes a fairly damning case but whatever actually happened I enjoyed this book most of all as a fantastic story. It would meake a great comic opera or a terrfic film!
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