Posts Tagged ‘Sara Keays’

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

February 6, 2016

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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Cecil Parkinson Dead at 84

January 26, 2016

Scarfe Parkinson

Gerald Scarfe’s bilious view of Parkinson: All matinee idol looks and smarmed down hair.

Mike yesterday also reported yesterday the death of the Tory politician, Cecil Parkinson, at the age of 84: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/25/former-tory-minister-cecil-parkinson-dies-aged-84/. Parkinson was a member of Thatcher’s cabinet and was being groomed to be her successor, when the news broke of his affair with Sara Keays, by whom he had a daughter, Flora. Mike states that this was his first exposure to political sleaze. Mike’s disgusted by Parkinson’s treatment of his lovechild, who has Asperger’s and learning difficulties. Parkinson has supported the child financially, but never met her, to the girl’s distress. Mike states that its because of this callous treatment of his handicapped daughter, that he has nothing good to say about the former politico.

Mike’s right, and the more you know about it, the more disgusted you are with Parkinson’s behaviour. Parkinson was in Private Eye on and off for years in the 1990s because of his treatment of his former lover and their daughter. He was extremely reluctant to pay Keays sufficient maintenance to support them both, and, from what I recall, imposed some kind of weird gagging order on her. I’m afraid it’s so long since I looked at the articles, that I can’t remember the details, but the Eye reported that this had the effect of making Keays unable to claim some of the welfare benefits or financial relief she needed. At one point I think she and her daughter were facing losing their home.

This was the grim reality facing Keays later on. At the time the scandal was regarded as a huge joke. Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games, had this little song about the affair:

John Selwyn Gummer is a name warm and dear,
Isn’t it a pity,
Cecil Parkinson wasn’t a trifle queer.

This caddish behaviour didn’t stop Parkinson from staging something of comeback. He appeared on Have I Got News For You a decade or so ago on television. Ian Hislop said that he charmed all of them. This is surprising, given the way the magazine uncovered and described his lover’s ill-treatment. As for his general demeanour, I don’t think many women shared this opinion of him. My mother and her friends agreed that he looked the kind of man they would not like to be caught behind the back of the filing cabinets with.

Clearly, he was not a man who valued marital fidelity, and his persecution and neglect of Keays seems mean-spirited and spiteful, at the very least. He probably wasn’t the worst, but he certainly did personify to an extent the personal sleaze and corruption of the Tory front bench.