‘BBC’s por­trayal of former Welsh MP is in­ac­cu­rate’

Western Mail - - NEWS - DAVID WIL­LIAMSON Po­lit­i­cal editor david.wil­liamson@waleson­line.co.uk

THE BBC drama A Very English Scan­dal has out­raged a Welsh MP over its por­trayal of one of his pre­de­ces­sors.

Mont­gomeryshire Con­ser­va­tive MP Glyn Davies has ac­cused the BBC of an “in­ac­cu­rate” pre­sen­ta­tion of Em­lyn Hoo­son, who served the same con­stituency as a Lib­eral from 1962 un­til 1979.

The drama fo­cuses on the events which led to Lib­eral leader Jeremy Thorpe be­ing ac­cused of try­ing to ar­range the mur­der of a former lover, Nor­man Scott.

Mr Hoo­son, who con­tested the lead­er­ship in 1967 and would later be­come a mem­ber of the House of Lords, is pre­sented as a ri­val to Mr Thorpe who meets Mr Scott and hears his ac­count of the re­la­tion­ship. He then tells Mr Thorpe he is minded to take the claims to the party and the po­lice.

Mr Davies said: “The por­trayal of Lord Hoo­son in A Very English Scan­dal as a con­niv­ing, self­ish and rather un­der­hand politi­cian is to­tally in­ac­cu­rate, and is cer­tainly not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the man I re­mem­ber and be­came very good friends with. Un­doubt­edly the pro­gramme-mak­ers have used some artis­tic li­cence in at­tempt­ing to paint Jeremy Thorpe in a rather more sym­pa­thetic light to how he has been por­trayed in the past, but it seems very un­fair that this comes at the cost of a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the late Lord Hoo­son, who was an MP who fought so hard to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of Mont­gomeryshire, and to cham­pion the con­stituency across the UK.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence of Lord Hoo­son, and I am sure of ev­ery­one within Mont­gomeryshire who knew him, is that of an ex­tremely well-liked, tal­ented and re­spected politi­cian – very much the op­po­site of how he is por­trayed within the pro­gramme.”

Lord Thomas of Gres­ford, a former pres­i­dent and chair­man of the Welsh Lib­eral Party, also de­nounced the por­trayal.

He said: “It is dis­ap­point­ing A Very English Scan­dal chose to por­tray Lord Hoo­son as a Machi­avel­lian fig­ure. I un­der­stand that the pro­gramme is adapted from a non-fic­tion novel and that shows such as this some­times have to put en­ter­tain­ment ahead of factual ac­cu­racy.

“How­ever, it would be dis­ap­point­ing if as a re­sult the pub­lic viewed Lord Hoo­son in this light and not as the com­mit­ted and re­spected MP he was. The peo­ple of Mont­gomeryshire, what­ever their po­lit­i­cal lean­ings, will re­mem­ber Lord Hoo­son as the tal­ented, ac­com­plished and hard-work­ing politi­cian and con­stituency rep­re­sen­ta­tive he was.

“I hope A Very English Scan­dal doesn’t pre­vent peo­ple from across the UK view­ing him the same way. Em­lyn, un­like Jeremy, was not a ruth­less and some­what lonely plot­ter.

“He had a highly suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a Queen’s Coun­sel, a very sup­port­ive wife and fam­ily, and many friends who val­ued his sense of hu­mour, his in­ter­est in sport and gen­eral joie de vivre. The show en­tirely misses the man.”

Former Mont­gomeryshire Lib­eral Demo­crat MP Lem­bit Opik, who rep­re­sented the seat from 1997 un­til 2010, paid trib­ute to Mr Hoo­son and his late wife, Shirley.

He said: “Em­lyn Hoo­son was one of the kind­est peo­ple I’ve ever met in Bri­tish pol­i­tics. The por­trayal of Em­lyn Hoo­son re­flects the au­thor’s view but it doesn’t re­flect mine.

“Em­lyn could not have been more sup­port­ive and help­ful to me. When I was down, when I needed help, when I needed a point of view, Em­lyn would give it to me, and he was even right about pre­dict­ing the 2010 gen­eral elec­tion out­come... He and Shirley were a part­ner­ship made in heaven, where I hope they are now.”

A BBC spokes­woman said: “Rus­sell T Davies’ scripts are based on John Pre­ston’s book of the same name and ad­di­tional re­search. The BBC al­ways fol­lows strict editorial pol­icy guide­lines in order to de­liver a pro­gramme that presents a fair por­trayal of events.”

> Jason Watkins plays Em­lyn Hoo­son in A Very English Scan­dal

> Lib­eral Demo­crat politi­cian Em­lyn Hoo­son

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