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