The Lord Boothby scandal: How nothing has changed in 50 years

In 1964, The Sunday Mirror printed allegations about a ‘homosexual relationship’ between ‘a prominent peer’ and ‘a leading thug in the London underworld’. They were alleged to have attended parties in Mayfair and Brighton which were also attended by clergymen and lawyers.

Although he wasn’t named in the original article, or in any of the subsequent Daily Mirror articles, Lord Boothby wrote to the Times to say he had returned from his holiday to find London ‘seething with rumours’ about him.

This led to ‘an unqualified apology’ on the front page of the Sunday Mirror, and an announcement that IPC ,the publishers of both the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mirror, had agreed to pay Lord Boothby £40,000 as compensation. £40,000 was a colossal sum in 1964, equivalent to around £1 million today.

This resulted in Boothby’s private affairs being kept out of the newspapers for the rest of his life. The un-named ‘gangster’ was Ronnie Kray, and the scandal also resulted in the Kray twins’ protection racket going un-investigated for another 5 years.

There are obvious parallels with another recent British scandal, which resulted in a Lord (who also wasn’t named) receiving, with astonishing speed, a huge sum of money and a public apology. Would an ordinary member of the public have received the same treatment if they were wrongly accused?

Another consequence of the Lord Boothby scandal was a change in government policy on prosecuting adult men for homosexual practices. This announcement came just 4 days after the scandal broke in the Sunday Mirror. Although the Conservatives had several times voted against legalising homosexuality, they suddenly changed their tune when Establishment figures became the target of blackmailers. They hadn’t given a second thought to ordinary gay men previously, but it suddenly became a pressing issue, although the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelhorn, denied that the issues were linked.

It’s also rumoured that young boys were sexually abused at the parties attended by Lord Boothby, clergymen and lawyers, and that a Labour MP called Tom Driberg was also in attendance. After the huge payout to Boothby, the British press would have been too scared to go anywhere near this story. Similarly, in 2013 the British press are too scared to report on Elm Guest House in case any prominent people are identified and then sue for damages.

Please also read this Independent article, The PM, the peer, and the gay gangster

For more information on how the British Establishment looks after its own, read The Dirt Book: How the sexual abuse of children is used for political gain

Sunday Mirror, July 12 1964

SMirror12764Daily Mirror, July 13 1964

Mirror13764Daily Mirror, July 13 1964

Mirror13764bDaily Mirror, July 14 1964

Mirror14764Daily Mirror, July 16 1964

Mirror16764Sunday Mirror, July 19 1964

Mirror19764Daily Mirror, July 20 1964

Mirror20764Sunday Mirror, August 2 1964

Mirror2864August 9 1964


  1. So it is now very clear from the dirt book article that gov ministers are given a free reign to do as they please, what can we do about this as i think it probably spreads across all party’s, time for a new style of government one where being a pedo doe’s not open doors for you, get rid of hereditary peers and get the evil bitch back to Germany where she belongs, up the republic, a republic built on a higher standard of morals instead of the cut throat politics we have right now.

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