Fresh claims that Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe plotted to murder his gay lover

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Fresh claims have been made that former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe plotted to murder his alleged former gay lover.

Mr Thorpe – who died earlier this week aged 85 – was elected leader of the Liberals in 1967, promising to turn the party into a radical pioneering force.

But his political career ended a decade later when an acquaintance, Norman Scott, claimed to have had a love affair with Thorpe in the early 1960s, at a time when male same-sex activity was illegal in Britain.

Mr Thorpe resigned as leader in 1976, and was later charged with conspiring to murder Scott. He was acquitted of the charges in 1979 due to lack of evidence, shortly after losing his seat in the general election.

However, fresh allegations have been made today that Mr Thorpe may have ordered the murder – after a former criminal stepped forward to say that he was offered £13,500 to carry out the killing.

A documentary about Mr Thorpe – which was previously not aired for legal reasons – was broadcast on Radio 4 on Friday.

In it, former criminal Dennis Meighan, now 68, revealed his part, saying: “At first they was very cagey about it, with the words they used.

“But he was being a right nuisance and things, he was blackmailing someone important and we’d be well looked after if we sorted him out, got rid of him, got rid of the problem.

“It built up very vaguely and gradually to would I go down there and would I be interested in doing the job… getting rid of Norman Scott.

“I had it in my mind to do it, but the conditions would have had to be right. It’s a big step shooting somebody.”

He says he got cold feet – and passed the gun to Andrew Newton, who famously shot Mr Scott’s dog, Rinka. Mr Scott was unharmed in the incident, and is still alive.

The Liberal and SDP parties formally merged in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.