Sunday Telegraph book deal that compromised a murder trial

Sebastian Faulks gave his former Sunday Telegraph boss, John Thompson, a warm send-off in his tribute yesterday, "A nurturing force in the final days of Fleet Street".It reinforced the picture drawn of Thompson in the more formal Daily Telegraph obituary following Thompson's death, aged 93, on 24 November.Thompson, who edited the Sunday Telegraph for 10 years from 1976, was mild of manner and ran a kindly regime but had "an inner steel", wrote Faulks. This characteristic was necessary, as both Faulks and the obituary pointed out, because of the difficulties he faced in producing a paper in Fleet Street's final days of continual union disputes.Faulks pointed out that it was difficult to know Thompson well because "he was a diffident man who did not invite intimacy." It reminded me of a description of him by Henry Porter as "retiring to the point of joining a trappist order." But Faulks and the Telegraph's obituarist overlooked Thompson's most extraordinary, and disastrous, decision as an editor. In 1978, the Sunday Telegraph negotiated the serialisation of an autobiography by a former Liberal MP, Peter Bessell, who was a chief prosecution witness in the trial of Jeremy Thorpe, his party's leader. Thorpe was accused of conspiring to murder a male model, Norman Scott, who was said to have blackmailed him over their alleged gay relationship.Two months after Thorpe was charged, Thompson agreed a contract with Bessell which stated that he would receive £50,000 for extracts... Continue reading at 'The Guardian'

[ The Guardian | 2013-12-02 00:00:00 UTC ]
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