Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Maurice Oldfield: Who Knew?

A sharp little mystery has been partially solved. Why had my predecessor as MP for West Derbyshire, the late Sir James Scott-Hopkins, so evidently disapproved of me? Why did he try to stop my secretary from taking the job? It had seemed out of character for this mellow and clubbable Old Etonian.

I’ve been reading the manuscript of Martin Pearce’s Spymaster, a gripping and candid new biography of the late Sir Maurice Oldfield, my former constituent and one-time head of MI6. Sir Maurice had to resign as Margaret Thatcher’s Northern Ireland security
co-ordinator when stories of his homosexuality surfaced. Pearce (Sir Maurice was his great-uncle) reveals that Mrs Thatcher visited him on his deathbed and — alone with her former appointee — asked him point-blank if he was gay. He confessed. His family found the dying man weeping after she had gone.

Two years earlier in 1979 Scott-Hopkins’s Westminster secretary was taken aside conspiratorially by the retiring MP and warned that for reasons he knew but could not reveal, she should have nothing to do with his successor — me. Dear Eileen, who now has dementia, confided in me decades later. She had ignored him, bless her, to become my secretary.

Now, in Spymaster, I learn that Scott-Hopkins had been an MI6 officer too.

Matthew Parris, The Times.

In next week's news, Danny LaRue was a drag act.

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