Marconi scandal

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Marconi scandal. An Edwardian political-financial controversy. The scandal arose out of a contract for the construction of a chain of wireless stations between the English Marconi Company and the British government represented by the postmaster-general, Herbert Samuel, who was a wholly innocent party. One of the company's directors, Godfrey Isaacs, was also a director of the American Marconi Company which had no holdings in the English company but stood to benefit indirectly from its success. In April 1912 Godfrey offered shares in the American company to his brother Rufus Isaacs (attorney-general), Lloyd George (chancellor of the Exchequer), and Alexander Murray (Liberal chief whip). Lloyd George unhesitatingly bought 1,000 shares at £2 each before they went on sale to the public at a price of £3.50.

In July rumours of ministerial speculation surfaced, notably in Eye Witness, a journal edited by Cecil Chesterton, which coined the phrase ‘Marconi scandal’. This was taken up by the opposition and led to the appointment of a House of Commons select committee. Though this exonerated the ministers, its verdict was essentially a party political one, for Murray had purchased additional shares for Liberal Party funds and subsequently disappeared to Bogotá in South America.

Martin Pugh

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Marconi scandal in 1912, it was suggested that Lloyd George, chancellor of the exchequer, and Rufus Isaacs, attorney general, had used inside knowledge to buy shares in the American Marconi company at a favourable rate. In the following year a House of Commons select committee acquitted both ministers of acting otherwise than in good faith, but the reputations of both men suffered.