Private Eye on Parkinson’s Gagging Order about Love-Child, Flora Keays

Both Mike over at Vox Political and myself wrote piece the other week on the death of Cecil Parkinson, discussing the shameful and disgusting way he treated his former lover, Sara Keays, and the illegitimate daughter he father, Flora. In order to cover up the shame of his affair, Parkinson took out a gagging order about the child. This is also discussed in this fortnight’s edition of Private Eye. They state that it is exactly twenty years ago that the covered the court injunction Parkinson took out against Keays. This banned her from publishing any information, in any form, about her daughter. According to the Eye, she could not even write to her MP, local councillor or the local paper about her dissatisfaction with her child’s education. Flora had learning difficulties, and her mother believed that her very specific needs were not being met.

The Eye’s article notes that a number of papers did include the gagging order in their obituaries, though there were exceptions. One of these was the Torygraph, which claimed that he bore his disgrace with stoicism. The Eye states that this was rubbish. When Parkinson was unable to use the law to silence critics on this matter, he simply lied about it. In 1998 he appeared on Question Time after William Hague brought him back as the Tory party’s chairman. When someone in the audience accused him of gagging the press with the injunction, Parkinson’s response was to lie, claiming that he had not brought the gagging order, or was party to it. The Eye goes on to point out that he was responsible for two such orders. One was the gagging order itself, and the other was a second gagging order, to prevent Keays from mentioning the first. It’s because of the shabby way he treated Sara Keays and her daughter that Mike stated he was unable to write anything good about the man when he finally met his maker.

Since then, other politicos have used similar orders and superinjunctions to cover up their misdeeds. These are mostly sexual. One of those was Andrew Marr. The Eye viewed such injunctions as a real threat to press freedom, beyond the privacy of the individuals who took them out. Parkinson’s decision to silence Keays set a sinister and ominous precedent in the gradual erosion of the right to free speech and information.

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