THE PENCOURT FILE by Barrie & Roger Courtiour Penrose

THE PENCOURT FILE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The British, too, have met their Watergate, or so it seems after reading this fast-paced descent into the swamp of political corruption by two freelance reporters, formerly attached to the BBC. On May 12, 1976, nearly two months after his resignation as Prime Minister, Harold Wilson summoned Penrose and Courtiour to his office and effectively offered to become their ""Deep Throat"" in the matter of South African involvement in British affairs and subversion in the famed MI5 department. (Wilson was a bit more theatrical than this: ""I see myself as the big fat spider in the corner of the room. Sometimes I speak when I'm asleep. You should both listen."") The actual extent of South African interference is never discovered, but our intrepid news hounds, acting upon a Wilson tip, uncover a completely different can of worms, the alleged homosexual affair between a sleazy nonentity, Norman Scott, and the leader of the Liberal Party, Jeremy Thorpe, a case assiduously covered up by Thorpe's friends in government. Their investigation of the Scott-Thorpe scandal loses the authors their jobs with the BBC, but they continue their efforts independently and soon Scott and his blackmail schemes become the centerpiece of the book. Hardly a corner of British society remains pure of implication in this sordid affair. Their interviews and travels also lead the authors to uncover a murder conspiracy against Scott, as well as an implausible plan for a military coup against Wilson's Labour government. The BBC, their former employer, comes off rather poorly, as a place where the truth is easily sacrificed at the first hint of scandal. Although the story is not over yet and all the threads have not been followed to their ends, British democracy has been put on its guard, it is hoped, from its enemies both inside and outside the establishment.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row