Norman Scott, his legs crossed, one arm befuddled accidentally over the aback of his blood-soaked sofa, leans avant-garde to ask his analgesic question.
‘So, were you absolutely activity to annihilation me all those years ago?’ he inquires of afraid hitman Dennis Meighan, sitting abutting to him.
It is aboriginal morning in Mr Scott’s Grade I-listed medieval longhouse on the bend of Dartmoor and The Mail on Sunday is witnessing an absorbing summit.
Getting answers: Norman Scott, right, talks to Dennis Meighan at his home on the bend of Dartmoor
More than four decades ago, Meighan was approached by an accessory of above Liberal baton Jeremy Thorpe and asked to blackout his above lover, Mr Scott. Exposure of their accord in the aboriginal 1960s – aback homosexuality was actionable – would accept concluded Thorpe’s career.
After accordant a £13,500 fee – £140,000 today – Meighan angry the job bottomward and months afterwards he accepted to police. Today, he has agreed to acknowledgment Mr Scott’s questions as best he can. The two men accept never met before.
The blaze in the 11th Century bean address crackles and spits. A grandfathering alarm ticks soothingly as we anticipate an answer. Elsewhere in the low-beamed allowance are photographs adulatory Mr Scott’s antecedent apotheosis as a macho model. There are pictures of horses, his abundant passion, and a array of King Charles spaniels in Staffordshire china.
Meighan examines the aback of his easily afresh looks Mr Scott asleep in the eye. If he is squirming internally, he doesn’t appearance it.
‘That’s what they wanted, to annihilate you, to shut you up,’ he says finally. ‘My abrupt was to shoot you.
‘Would I accept done it? I don’t know, really. I was aggravating to assignment out how to get money off them afterwards accepting to shoot you.’
Mr Scott nods: ‘I see.’
Meighan: ‘It was never personal.’
Mr Scott: ‘That makes me feel so abundant better.’
Sarcasm aside, audition this – and abundant added besides – confirms Norman Scott’s long-held acceptance that Thorpe advised killing, rather than artlessly alarming him.
This was the defence avant-garde at Thorpe’s 1979 ‘trial of the century’ aback he was austere of acute to annihilate his above lover.
Dennis Meighan pictured on the larboard in the backward 1970s and Andrew Newton on the right, the additional apache hitman
Meighan appear his amazing adventure to The Mail on Sunday in December 2013. He said he gave detectives capacity of the cabal in 1975 but was ignored. Instead, a apocryphal account exonerating himself and the baby-kisser was allegedly accustomed to him to sign.
Our address led to a 2016 Gwent Badge assay – codenamed Operation Velum – into these claims which was alone a year later.
One of the affidavit the force cited for demography no added activity was the afterlife of Andrew Newton, the additional apache hitman – who would accept had ability of Meighan’s role. Alone Newton hadn’t died. This bi-weekly pictured him abiding home from a arcade cruise aftermost week.
During their hour-long activity on Friday, the two men revisited the annihilation artifice and the generally absurd contest arch up to it.
‘People will ask why I capital to accommodated him [Meighan], when, afterwards all, he was one of the men actuality paid to annihilate me,’ Mr Scott said. ‘But how abroad can I alpha acclamation changing questions surrounding Jeremy Thorpe’s role in this and the consecutive cover-up.
‘The badge assume absorbed on break themselves from any added investigation. This is why I had to catechism Mr Meighan myself.’
Mr Scott additionally asked Meighan about Newton and his motives – and the gun that Meighan supplied for the job. He gave it to Newton, who acclimated it to shoot Mr Scott’s dog Rinka. Mr Scott says he able alone because the weapon awash aback Newton apprenticed it adjoin his head.
And amid the austere affairs at hand, there was absurdity too.
Norman Scott, pictured left, and Jeremy Thorpe, to the right, both pictured alfresco Old Bailey court
First, the two men exchanged baby talk. ‘It’s some abode you’ve got here,’ says Meighan. ‘Thank you, I’m animated you like it,’ replies Mr Scott, anytime the affable host.
Meighan, a self-confessed above bush bent from West London, is a butt of a man who could accept featured in the 1980s TV comedy-drama Minder, which was filmed, he says, ‘on my manor’. In his youth, he enjoyed ‘getting into fights bottomward the Hammersmith Palais’ and he amusingly recounts a account about confiscation advance from Kensington Palace while animate as a roofer.
Was he afraid about actuality questioned by the man he already agreed to kill? ‘Don’t be daft,’ he retorts.
His accession prompts a advance of barking from Mr Scott’s dogs – four Affenpinschers, two English terriers and a rescued pug – which Mr Scott jokes are ‘guarding me’.
The two men barter a brief handshake afresh achieve bottomward on the sofa. Mr Scott is afraid to apperceive what Meighan was told by Newton and the Thorpe accessory – believed to be the Liberal leader’s best man David Holmes – about the affidavit for the hit.
‘They said you’d been a annoying boy,’ says Meighan. Mr Scott replies: ‘There’s alone one annoying boy in this room. But go on, how had I been naughty?’
Meighan: ‘They said you had been talking about him [Thorpe] and activity about abashing him. They aloof kept activity on and on. But I wasn’t absolutely absorbed in audition it.’
Previously, Meighan has told this bi-weekly that he went to Barnstaple, Devon, area Mr Scott was afresh living, absorbed on murdering him if the ‘conditions were right’.
Although he fabricated a acknowledgment to this aftereffect in 1975, badge replaced it with a apocryphal account exonerating him and abbreviating all acknowledgment of Thorpe. This was the camouflage Operation Velum advised in 2016 but alone a year later, alone to briefly restart aback they apparent Newton was animate afore closing afresh aftermost anniversary aback he said he couldn’t advice them.
Today, Meighan is added attentive and says his mission 43 years ago was alone to ‘have a look’.
Meighan appear his amazing adventure to The Mail on Sunday in December 2013
‘You went to Barnstaple,’ asks Mr Scott. Meighan says: ‘Yeah. I went bottomward there and went in the pub and ordered a ablaze ale and of advance anybody looked at me. You charge accept talked about London bodies advancing afterwards you?’
‘Oh, yes!’ said Mr Scott, who had been admonishing for months that he feared a hitman would seek him out.
Meighan: ‘When I absolved in anybody shut up and started to attending at me. I anticipation any drifter advancing bottomward actuality is activity to angle out a mile. So I went aback to London and told Andrew that I wasn’t accepting it and said he’d be absurd to do it as well.’
But it was bright Newton acquainted he had little best but to booty on the role of assassin. Newton’s intentions at this choice are of abundant absorption to Mr Scott, as the above airline pilot has consistently claimed that he advised to alone affright him. He asks Meighan if he acutely acquainted Newton was ‘going to go advanced and shoot me’, and he replies: ‘Yeah, he was activity to shoot.’
Mr Scott: ‘And kill?’
Meighan: ‘Yes, he would accept done. He was greedy. It was all about the money.’ Mr Scott sighs and all-overs his head. The two men afresh altercate the alarming contest on a backing night on October 23, 1975, aback on a abandoned alley binding Exmoor, Mr Scott is assertive he survived an attack on his life.
On the way there, Newton, who affected to be a clandestine detective apache to assure Mr Scott, asked him to ability bottomward and retrieve some matches from his briefcase.
In complying, Mr Scott accidentally helped his ambitious apache by handing him a box of bullets.
‘There were two matchboxes, one independent what articulate like marbles,’ he recalled. ‘Newton asked me to accord him those as able-bodied but said there was addition box which did accommodate matches.’
Addressing Meighan, he asks: ‘Did the gun you gave Newton [a 1910 Mauser automated pistol] accept baby bullets, baby abundant to fit in a matchbox?’
He is told that, yes, the archetypal accursed .25-calibre bullets.
‘I knew it!’ exclaims Mr Scott. ‘That’s so interesting. It agency I absolutely handed him the bullets acclimated to annihilate Rinka and to try to annihilate me. I additionally bethink accepting into the car that night and seeing a huge book on Scientology. So was he a Scientologist?’
‘I’m not sure,’ replies Meighan. ‘But he got complex in all sorts of asinine things.’
Meighan said the gun came from his clandestine accumulating and was the ‘only one that worked’, adding: ‘Mostly they were 17th and 18th Century’
Mr Scott: ‘How lovely… They are absolutely little accoutrements with absolutely a long, what do you alarm it?’ Meighan: ‘Barrel?’ Mr Scott: ‘Yes, did you anytime blaze it?’ Meighan: ‘No.’ Mr Scott seems adequate that his altercation that the Mauser awash aback Newton captivated it to his temple and pulled the activate is accurate by Meighan. He says: ‘The aftermost anamnesis of him [Newton] is of him afraid the gun in the car headlights, saying, “F*** it, f*** it”.
Meighan replies: ‘Shaking it? That wouldn’t accept done abundant good.’ And to Mr Scott’s consternation, he adds: ‘He should accept reloaded it really. Whether that would accept done it, I don’t know…’
Mr Scott says: ‘Well, it was advantageous for me that it did jam. I’m still here. But it was sad for Rinka… Addition activity I’ve generally wondered is whether the gun had a silencer because I didn’t apprehend a blast aback he attempt Rinka.’
Meighan replies that it didn’t accept a silencer but would accept fabricated a ‘crack’ sound.
‘Ah, I see,’ says Mr Scott.
‘It was a agrarian night so conceivably I wouldn’t accept heard it. I’ve generally wondered.’
Rinka had jumped up at Mr Scott, cerebration they were activity for a walk, aback the ammo hit her head.
Reflecting on what ability accept happened had the weapon been added powerful, he says: ‘The ammo could accept anesthetized through Rinka and hit me.
‘So acknowledge you for giving Newton a small-calibre gun.’
Meighan: ‘Don’t acknowledgment it.’
Of Meighan’s accommodation to go accessible with his claims of a cover-up, Mr Scott said: ‘I’m actual beholden to you for cogent the truth. This [meeting] is aberrant but I’m atrocious to acquisition out annihilation that ability accumulate the case alive, to assuredly array it out. There’s so abundant corruption…’
Meighan interjects: ‘The agitation is so abounding bodies accept died. Will it anytime be sorted?’ Mr Scott says: ‘We can alone alive in hope.’
Additional reporting: Nick Constable and Mark Wood
A aspersion that still captivates us all… an assay by Ian Gallagher
Political scandal, the juicier the better, never fails to allure the abundant British public. And few were added amazing than the Jeremy Thorpe affair, as the BBC’s contempo dramatisation starring Hugh Grant cautiously proved.
One of the best amazing political tales of the 20th Century, it was rendered all the added arresting by the fetor of an Establishment cover-up, which grew anytime added aromatic as years passed.
Following a Mail on Sunday address in 2013, Gwent badge launched Operation Velum to appraise claims of bribery in affiliation with the aboriginal assay into the artifice to annihilation Norman Scott, the above Liberal leader’s lover.
Dennis Meighan told us he was apache to annihilate Mr Scott on the instructions of a Thorpe associate. His acknowledgment was ripped up by badge at the time and allegedly replaced with one that absolved both Thorpe and Meighan.
But instead of animated a ablaze on who was abaft this affirmation of bluntly abandoned affirmation tampering, Operation Velum instead went all out to arraign Meighan.
Little admiration he kept his aperture shut aback detectives approved to account him again.
Crucially, during Meighan’s acme with Norman Scott aftermost week, he fabricated bright the annihilation artifice was real. In particular, he is assertive that Andrew Newton, who replaced him as the hitman, would accept dead Mr Scott but for a adulterated gun.
Before Thorpe’s 1979 trial, Newton gave affirmation for the case and cut himself a accord that fabricated him allowed from prosecution. He now says he can’t advice Gwent police, who are now closing the bribery inquiry. Already afresh the aisle had gone cold.
Mr Scott, meanwhile, who accustomed the renewed absorption engendered by the BBC’s A Actual English Scandal, is attractive for a new lawyer.
‘I’ll never accord up angry for justice,’ he said yesterday.
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