618 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 80 PART 4 JULY 2022
from time to time as the latter was something of a vagrant and was often
unable to hold down a job due to mental illness. Thorpe arranged for
employment for Scott and also wrote him a series of love letters in which
Thorpe used the pet name “Bunnies” to describe his friend.
Scott eventually wrote to Thorpe’s mother telling her of their relationship
and accusing Thorpe of awakening “this vice that lies within every
man”. Thorpe viewed the letter as an extortion attempt and got his associate,
Peter Bessell, to fly to Dublin, where Scott was living, to caution him
and to make arrangements for him to get a job in America (where presumably
he would be out of the picture).
Scott continued to pursue odd jobs, but whenever he was short of funds
he would reach out to Bessell who would placate him with relatively small
amounts of money in exchange for Scott leaving Thorpe alone. Scott,
though, kept harassing Thorpe and Bessell for more funds. One day Bessell
was summoned to Thorpe’s office in the House of Commons where Thorpe
told him, “We’ve got to get rid of him … it’s no worse than shooting a sick
dog.” Thorpe and Bessell then discussed how best to dispose of Scott’s body
together with another friend of Thorpe’s, David Holmes.
Holmes got his acquaintances, George Deakin and John Le Mesurier, to
hire Andrew Newton to scare Scott. In a staggering moment of incompetence,
Newton only managed to shoot Scott’s dog, Rinka, leaving Scott and
the dying dog at the roadside and driving away in a car he had rented under
his own name. Newton was soon caught and convicted of various firearms
offences (staying silent about the reason he was hired during the trial). He
was sentenced to two years in prison. When Newton was released from
prison, however, he told the press that he had been paid £5,000 by a man
named Le Mesurier to shoot Scott.
The police investigated, and as a result Le Mesurier, Deakin, Holmes and
Thorpe were all charged. The prosecution relied largely on the testimony
of Peter Bessell about the conspiracy to murder Scott; however, his credibility
was undermined by the fact that he had sold his story to The Sunday Telegraph
for £50,000 (with him receiving only half that sum in the event of an
acquittal). Scott’s testimony was undermined by his own history of convictions,
his fragile mental state and a variety of inconsistent statements.
The judge’s summing-up for the jury was extremely biased, with the
judge referring to Thorpe (who did not testify) as “a national figure with a
very distinguished public record”, Bessell as “a humbug” and Scott as a
“fraud, a sponger, a whiner, a parasite—but of course he could still be telling
the truth. It is a question of belief.”4 All four men were acquitted, but the
public did not accept the result as accurate, and Thorpe’s political career
came to an abrupt end.