The Mail on Sunday
Michael Foot made pass at stepdaughter, claims book
FORMER Labour leader Michael Foot once made a pass at his stepdaughter, a new biography claims.
It says the politician, then in his late 40s, tried to kiss 28-year-old Julie Hamilton, the daughter of his wife Jill Craigie from her first marriage.
The news comes just weeks after The Mail on Sunday disclosed that the Leftwing intellectual had affairs with two of his secretaries and an Indian journalist during his 50-year marriage to Miss Craigie.
Biographer Carl Rollyson said the latest revelation was made in 2001 by Miss Hamilton when he interviewed her for a book about her mother, a feminist filmmaker who had died two years earlier.
The claims are contained in Mr Rollyson’s new biography, A Private Life Of Michael Foot, which is based on some 200 hours of taped interviews with Foot, his family and friends, as well as personal correspondence between Miss Craigie and her daughter.
Mr Rollyson, who met Miss Hamilton in a London pub along with former political journalist Ian Aitken, said they were discussing Foot’s 20-year affair with his former secretary, Elizabeth Thomas, when Miss Hamilton revealed that the politician had made a pass at her.
In a tape-recording of the conversation, a woman who Mr Rollyson identifies as Miss Hamilton can be heard confiding, ‘He made a pass at me,’ to which he replies, ‘Did he?’
Miss Hamilton: ‘It took me totally by surprise.’ Mr Rollyson: ‘How old were you then?’ Miss Hamilton: ‘Oh, somewhere around 28.’
At the time Miss Hamilton, a photographer, was married. She had earlier dated Sean Connery, then a struggling actor.
She said she and her husband had a house in the country which they used at weekends. She says: ‘I believe he [Foot] came down for the weekend. And he came out to the kitchen, where I was cleaning up. He was about to say goodbye and he came out and he gave me a great French kiss. I mean, I think, it repelled me. It took me totally by surprise and shocked me deeply. And all kinds of other things fell into place.
‘Like when I was sitting in the car and I feel this finger down my back and I just thought, “Maybe he doesn’t have leg room.” I’ve never told anybody this. I don’t think that you should remember that.’ Mr Rollyson: ‘Yes, yeah, no. But it’s good to know anyway. He’s so disturbing, you know. But it doesn’t surprise me.’
Miss Hamilton: ‘ He had an eye for young women.’ Mr Rollyson: ‘He still does.’ Miss Hamilton: ‘I know.’
Earlier in the conversation, Miss Hamilton, now 75, can be heard saying: ‘Michael is not the man we always believe him to be. There are other sides to Michael Foot.’
In his biography, Mr Rollyson, an American academic, gives details of Foot’s affairs and reveals how the greatest threat to his marriage came from his relationship with the BBC’s Leila Pasha. Miss Craigie is said to have confronted her husband after discovering ‘pornographic letters’ from the reporter, and told her daughter she feared Foot would not give up ‘that wretched woman’.
Mr Rollyson discovered the affairs after being given access to papers and diaries while researching an earlier biography of Miss Craigie.
He said he questioned the politician about them a year after Miss Craigie’s death in 1999.
Last night Mr Rollyson recalled that the meeting at the London pub was organised to extract information from Mr Aitken about Foot.
Though Miss Hamilton knew of her stepfather’s affair with Leila Pasha, she was astonished when Mr Rollyson told her about Elizabeth Thomas. ‘From the tone of her voice, she regarded Michael’s affairs in the vein that he was a hypocrite,’ Mr Rollyson said.
‘She saw a lot of his good points but she also saw a discrepancy between his politics and some of his private behaviour.
‘She felt he was selfish. His affair with Leila had been a huge blow to her mother. Ian, who worked with Michael at the magazine Tribune, was also startled, amazed, when I told him about their affair.’
Mr Rollyson said Miss Hamilton knew he was recording their conversation and never asked him not to use the ‘incestuous’ anecdotes, which he believes are essential to revealing a picture of the ‘full man’.
‘As a Labour politician, Michael paid lip-service to female equality but he didn’t follow his own precepts,’ he said. ‘He was a man of his era, a man who felt men had a privileged position. His advances to Julie were inappropriate, an abuse of trust. Behaviour like this by a stepfather can be terribly destructive to family relationships.’
When asked about the claims last week, Miss Hamilton said: ‘It’s rubbish. I have no recollection of that.’