A police force which wrongly assumed the prime suspect in one of Britain’s greatest political scandals was dead has made the same blunder again.
Gwent Police first declared two years ago that Andrew Newton was ‘deceased’ following an investigation into the plot to kill Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s ex-lover, Norman Scott.
But they faced embarrassment when The Mail on Sunday discovered Newton, 72, living under an alias in Surrey. Detectives were forced to admit their error and rushed to the house, only to find he had vanished.
Now, in response to a formal complaint from a former Cabinet Minister about their ‘inept’ handling of the case, police have repeated their astonishing mistake.
After a six-month probe, Gwent’s Professional Standards Department rejected the complaint, saying in a letter: ‘Many key individuals are now deceased, including Andrew Newton.’
But laughing off the claim, Newton’s former girlfriend Patsy Frankham insisted yesterday: ‘He is alive and well.’ And last night, Mr Scott, 79, said: ‘How can I have any confidence that this investigation has been taken seriously? It’s as though justice is some kind of game.’
Gwent Police yesterday apologised for the ‘inaccuracy’.
The error was made in a letter to Lord Hain, who had demanded answers about the role of Dennis Meighan in the Thorpe affair on behalf of Mr Scott. Five years ago, Meighan, now 72, admitted to the MoS that he was offered £13,500 by Newton and a ‘representative’ of Thorpe in 1975 to silence Mr Scott.
Meighan agreed but later changed his mind and went on to confess to police. But he claims his role was covered up to protect Thorpe.
Newton was convicted of shooting Mr Scott’s dog Rinka in 1976. Mr Scott said Newton also turned the gun on him but it jammed.
Thorpe and three others were acquitted at the Old Bailey of conspiracy to murder and Mr Scott believes that had Meighan’s involvement not been expunged, the outcome may have been different.
Mr Scott said: ‘I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall. People think I am lying about something but I am not. Next week it will be 44 years since Newton tried to murder me and still there is no justice.’