Thorpe, (John) Jeremy

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Thorpe, (John) Jeremy (b. 1929). Liberal leader. Son of a Conservative MP, Thorpe was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, where he was president of the Union. He began a legal career but in 1959 was elected as a Liberal for North Devon, succeeding Grimond as party leader in 1967. A flamboyant and entertaining leader, his party slumped badly in 1970, reduced to six seats, but recovered to fourteen at the first election of 1974. He was forced to resign as leader in 1976 after bizarre allegations, involving homosexual relationships, the shooting of a pet dog on Exmoor, and culminating in a trial for conspiracy to murder in June 1979. The previous month he had lost his seat to a Conservative in an election in which Auberon Waugh stood as a Dog Lovers candidate. Though Thorpe was acquitted, he took no further part in Westminster politics. His reminiscences In My Own Time were published in 1999.

J. A. Cannon