- Nicholas Fairbairn has been linked to fellow paedophile MP Cyril Smith
- The former Tory MP who died in 1995 is accused of abusing children
- Susie Henderson claims she was abused by Fairbairn in the 1970s
- Fairbairn even tried to proposition Margaret Thatcher while incredibly drunk
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Revealed: The Full horrifying truth about Sir Nicholas Fairbairn - the other paedophile at Margaret Thatcher's side
Despite his reputation as a womaniser and fondness for malt whisky, a daily habit that brought about his premature death aged just 61, the funeral of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in 1995 was marked by an outpouring of respect and admiration.
As more than 1,000 luminaries crammed into St John’s Kirk in Perth, the former Tory MP’s significance as a political figure was underlined by the presence of Lady Thatcher, who had promoted the brilliant solicitor to her first Cabinet in 1979.
While a lone Scottish piper played a lament, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister strode solemnly to the pulpit to read an excerpt from The Prophet, a book by the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who had been one of Fairbairn’s favourite authors.
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Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, pictured with his second wife Samantha, had a terrible secret he brought to his grave
Her tribute was witnessed by a host of leading politicians, judges, and Scottish aristocrats of the day.
They had come to pay respects to a uniquely colourful individual who, in a political career spanning two decades, had achieved a mixture of fame and notoriety as one the most recognisable — but also controversial — members of the Commons.
A self-styled eccentric, who lived in the 13th-century Fordell Castle near Dunfermline, Sir Nicholas was blessed with extraordinary intelligence and political talent. He had been Scotland’s youngest ever QC before being elected MP for Perth and Kinross in 1974, at the age of 40.
In Westminster, where his initial rise was stratospheric, he cut a dandyish figure, and was often seen in blue baronial tartan adorned with two miniature (working) silver revolvers, which Sir Nicholas would load with blanks and fire when drunk.
When speaking in the Commons, Sir Nicholas sometimes wore an enormous Highland smock (‘I know I look like an ironmonger, but I don’t want my suits to glitter like other MPs’ ’), or a kilt teamed with double-breasted scarlet jacket, gold watch chain and lurid pink shirt.
Following his death in 1995, Fairbairn has been subject to several accusations that he sexually abused a number of children
Other favourite outfits were buckled shoes, tartan knickerbockers, and a thick brown jumper over which he placed a huge leather belt with a metal buckle. When the Queen knighted him in 1988, he turned up in full Scottish regalia, complete with a sgian dubh — a small dagger — and sword.
Clothes weren’t the only thing about Sir Nicholas that generated column inches, though.
A notorious adulterer, who clocked up two wives and scores of mistresses, he was forced to resign as Lady Thatcher’s Solicitor General for Scotland in 1982, after a scandal stemming from his decision not to press charges against a group of men accused of attacking a Glasgow prostitute with razor blades during a gang rape.
Thereafter, he descended into chronic alcoholism, consuming at least a bottle of Scotch each day — though he stressed that he was happy to ‘make do’ with vodka.
As his fondness for drink worsened, his tongue loosened. Throughout the Eighties and early Nineties, he became notorious for giving colourful interviews in which he expressed deeply offensive, and often highly misogynistic, sentiments.
On Desert Island Discs, for example, he declared that female MPs ‘lack fragrance — they all look as if they’re from the 5th Kiev Stalinist machine gun parade’.
In newspaper interviews, he called Labour MP and feminist Clare Short ‘the big, fat one,’ described rape victims as ‘tauntresses’ and asked, ‘what is a skirt, but an open gateway?’
In a late-night Commons debate about the gay age of consent in 1994, Sir Nicholas was meanwhile called to order by the Speaker for delivering a drunken diatribe against homosexuality which included an obscene description of the mechanics of ‘sodomy’.
In later years he took great pleasure in making unsolicited and often deeply demeaning advances on women unfortunate enough to catch his eye.
The Guardian reporter Judy Rumbold interviewed him in 1991. Towards the end of proceedings, she wrote: ‘He lunges across the table and tries to engage me in a whiskery snog.’ Shockingly, Fairbairn’s second wife, Suzanne (known as Sam), was in the next room at the time.
Fairbairn was brought into Margaret Thatcher's first cabinet in 1979 and was a close confident of the PM
Not even Lady Thatcher could avoid his unwanted attention. In the mid-Eighties, Sir Nicholas drunkenly propositioned the then Prime Minister during a dinner at Holyrood Palace, whispering into her ear that he’d ‘always fancied’ her.
The Iron Lady is said to have responded: ‘Quite right, Nicholas, you have very good taste.’ But noting the extent of Fairbairn’s intoxication, she then added: ‘However, I don’t think that you would make it at the moment.’
Doubtless Lady Thatcher, like many in those less enlightened times, regarded her former Cabinet ally as an amusing buffoon.
Perhaps she, and other friends, forgave his wandering hands as a sort of harmless horseplay. Indeed, following his death from cirrhosis of the liver, obituaries portrayed him as a bombastic eccentric who’d added greatly to the gaiety of Westminster.
Susie Henderson, pictured, claimed she was first abused by Fairbairn when she was just aged four
But that was then. Today, things have changed. And in light of a series of appalling recent allegations, that light-hearted view of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn seems nothing less than grotesque.
For in addition to being a drunk and a womaniser, this famous Scottish Conservative also stands accused of being a predatory paedophile — one of two abusers now identified in Lady Thatcher’s inner circle.
Talking to the Daily Mail last week, 48-year-old Susie Henderson gave a disturbing account of her childhood encounters with the MP.
Waiving her anonymity, she claimed that Fairbairn had sexually assaulted and raped her on several occasions, beginning when she was four years old.
Susie Henderson, pictured here as a child, said she was abused by Fairbairn as her father looked on
Sir Nicholas was a close friend of Susie’s late father, Robert Henderson, a fellow leading light of the Scottish legal establishment, who regularly held decadent private parties at his family’s large and smartly decorated townhouse in Edinburgh.
It was during one of these sordid events in about 1970 that Susie says her father came into the kitchen with Fairbairn.
‘I was maybe four years old,’ she told the Mail. ‘I had a skirt on and Nicholas and my dad had been drinking, and my dad told me to sit on Nicholas’s knee. I sat on his knee and he put his hand up my skirt and abused me. My dad just stood there laughing.’
During another party, Susie says she was raped by Sir Nicholas and another man in a guest room at the top of her parents’ five-storey home.
‘I hated that man,’ said Ms Henderson, who says she still recalls the pungent smell of Fairbairn’s feet. She’s not sure exactly how often Sir Nicholas abused her over the years, but says it happened many times.
Ms Henderson does not seem to have been his only victim, either.
Last month, Sir Nicholas was named as one of three MPs on a list of clients of the notorious Elm Guest House, a gay brothel in Barnes, West London, where under-age boys from a nearby care home were allegedly plied with drink and drugs and sexually abused.
The other MPs were Sir Peter Morrison — another Scottish minister close to Lady Thatcher, who was a prolific child abuser — and Cyril Smith, the Liberal MP for Rochdale exposed as a paedophile in 2012.
The trio feature in documents apparently penned by the owner of the guesthouse, which state that ‘N Fairburn’ (sic) and ‘C Smith’ (who asked to be called Tubby by staff and boys), visited on June 7, 1982. The documents add that ‘Fairburn’ had ‘used boys in sauna’. Given the very public opposition to homosexuality that Fairbairn expressed in Parliament, allegations that he abused boys at a gay sauna have shocked his former colleagues.
Fairbairn has also been linked to a paedophile ring involving former MPs Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison
Take an extended look at his life, however, and some astonishing secrets emerge. For in his younger days, this obsessive womaniser turns out to have been something rather different: a highly promiscuous gay liberation activist with murky links to the now-notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.
And indeed, those who knew him before he entered politics say that Fairbairn grew up aggressively bisexual, but suppressed his true desires in order to advance in the Tory Party of the mid-Seventies.
They believe this left him hopelessly conflicted, leading to his chronic drink problem and the predatory and often hugely offensive nature of his advances to women.
The story begins in a deeply dysfunctional childhood. Fairbairn was born in 1933. His father was a prominent psychoanalyst, his mother an aristocrat. ‘By the time I was born,’ he recalled, ‘they were totally estranged.’
Fairbairn, pictured, once tried to drunkenly proposition Margaret Thatcher
After graduating from the exclusive Loretto School and Edinburgh University, he trained as a solicitor, and soon became known in legal circles as a gifted advocate with strong libertarian principles and, outside the office, a keen interest in the arts.
An amateur poet and painter, he soon became chairman of Edinburgh’s Left-wing Traverse Theatre in the Sixties. And it was here that he became active in the radical gay community.
‘Under Fairbairn’s stewardship, the Traverse began specialising in gay and lesbian drama,’ recalls a contemporary. ‘I remember going to one play called something like ‘Gay Sweatshop,’ and another called ‘Mass In F,’ which was full of nudity and got picketed by the Mary Whitehouse lobby. The funny thing, given Fairbairn’s views later in life, was that he was also notorious for propositioning male actors and theatre staff. I remember a boy in his 20s telling me about an advance Fairbairn had made on him at a Traverse party.’
Fairbairn was in fact married from 1962-79, to Elizabeth Mackay, the daughter of the 13th Baron Reay and mother of his three surviving daughters. But in the circles in which he moved, this was not uncommon.
‘It was a time of free love. You must remember that homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980, and many gay and bisexual men were supposedly happily married,’ adds the contemporary.
We have established that, in 1970, Sir Nicholas became honorary vice- president of the Scottish Minorities Group (SMG), a new, radical gay liberation organisation founded by a man called Ian Dunn.
The SMG campaigned, among other things, for homosexuality to be legalised in Scotland, and for the age of consent to be identical for gay and straight sex.
But it also had a more contentious place in history. For in 1974, Dunn and another SMG activist, Michael Hanson, co-founded the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). The vile organisation, which lobbied for child sex to be legalised, was for the first year of its existence a sub- committee of the SMG.
Over the ensuing years, PIE retained affiliate status with the SMG, and forged links with other mainstream groups, including the National Council for Civil Liberties, which at the time was being run by future Labour heavyweights Patricia Hewitt, Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey.
Ms Hewitt apologised for her links to PIE earlier this year when they were highlighted by the Mail, though Harman and Dromey have so far refused to say sorry.
But we digress. After being selected as a Conservative MP, Fairbairn performed a remarkable ethical volte face, quietly resigning his vice presidency of SMG in 1974, and morphing overnight into a vociferous opponent of gay rights. His links to PIE were never discovered by the Press. And details of his progressive youth never filtered through to Westminster where, though re-married to Suzanne, he ensured that he became famed as a womaniser by embarking on several high-profile affairs.
There were dozens of female lovers. One, a Commons secretary, attempted suicide outside his London home in 1981. Another, broadcaster Esther Rantzen, says he plied her with Krug and beluga caviar a few years later. ‘The rest was inevitable,’ she wrote in her memoirs.
Ian Pace, a lecturer at City University in London, and a campaigner and researcher on organised abuse, believes Fairbairn’s behaviour during this era was part of a concerted effort to ‘cover the tracks’ of his bisexual past.
Despite publicly opposing homosexuality in the most offensive terms, it is understood Fairbairn was bisexual
If so, then it wasn’t entirely successful. In the early Nineties, a Scottish newspaper discovered Fairbairn’s name in an old piece of SMG literature. He responded by claiming that he’d had no idea of the nature of the ‘perverted’ minority the SMG lobbied for when he’d agreed to be their figurehead.
That explanation always seemed unlikely, however. A former SMG activist who emailed the Mail this week described it as ‘clearly a lie’.
‘I have never had access to early SMG membership records (they probably no longer exist), but I am told that Fairbairn was a fully paid up individual member before he was appointed as Honorary VP,’ said the activist.
‘Even if he hadn’t been, SMG was very high profile. And of course Fairbairn received all the Group’s mailings, for four years, so he must have known what the organisation did.
‘He moved in a lot of artistic circles in his youth and I know several (straight) people who can recall being propositioned by him. I wonder to what extent the denial of his sexuality led to the drinking which so clearly wrecked his life.’
Little wonder, perhaps, that even in his final years, Fairbairn still manoeuvred to keep his past under wraps.
Fairbairn, was buried at Fordell Castle, pictured, where he was described as 'a great womaniser'
A few years before his death, he called for Leveson-style curbs on Press freedom amid newspaper claims (dismissed by an inquiry) that a so-called ‘magic circle’ of Scottish judges, sheriffs and advocates in his former professional set were conspiring to ensure that homosexual criminals were given soft-touch treatment by the courts.
After Sir Nicholas was buried at Fordell Castle, the obituaries talked of him as one of Parliament’s great womanisers. All of them, that is, except one in the little-read underground magazine ScotsGay.
Obtained by the Mail this week, it lamented that Fairbairn had died ‘firmly in the closet’.
One straight man who remembers being propositioned by Fairbairn in the Sixties told ScotsGay: ‘It was really a shame — if he’d just accepted and been open about his bisexuality it would have taken a lot of pressure off him and he might not have taken to the drink.’
Given what we now know, of course, Fairbairn had plenty of other reasons to conceal the real nature of his sexuality. Did he, perhaps, drink himself to death because he was haunted by his paedophile past?
That seems unlikely. Shortly before his death, he expressed no regrets. ‘I’ve had a hell of good time on Earth,’ he told Martin Robb, a fellow Tory. ‘It has been Heaven.’