You’d be hard-placed to find a country that does political scandals as well as England.
But one involving a prominent politician, a jilted former lover, an amateur hitman and the unfortunate death of a dog still manages to read like a work of fiction.
In 1979, the former leader of Britain’s Liberal Party Jeremy Thorpe went on trial for conspiracy to murder, accused of hiring a hitman to kill a former gay lover who was threatening to destroy his political career.
The story of his downfall sits right up there with the most bizarre tales to ever come out of Westminster.
John Preston wrote a book about it, A Very English Scandal, which is now being turned into a TV series with Hugh Grant playing the role of Thorpe, and Benjamin Whishaw the former lover.
Thorpe ‘had beguiling air of mischief’
The story begins during the 1960s in Britain, a time when Preston says the leaders of the main political parties were “dull plain-looking men without any kind of noticeable charisma”.
“Thorpe on the other hand was young, he was good-looking, he was charismatic, he had a very beguiling air of mischief about him which was almost an unknown thing at the time,” he said.