Antony Lambton


Antony Claud Frederick Lambton (10 July 1922 – 30 December 2006), also known as Lord Lambton, was a British aristocrat who served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1951 to 1973. Styled as Viscount Lambton from 1941 to 1970, he became the 6th Earl of Durham in February 1970 but disclaimed the title soon after. As a result of a sex scandal in 1973, he resigned from Parliament and ministerial office. He was a cousin of Alec Douglas-Home, who was Prime Minister for a year from 1963 to 1964.

Antony Lambton
Lambton appearing on the television programme After Dark in 1991
Member of Parliament
for Berwick-upon-Tweed
In office
25 October 1951 – 22 May 1973
Preceded byRobert Thorp
Succeeded byAlan Beith
Personal details
Antony Claud Frederick Lambton

(1922-07-10)10 July 1922
Compton, Sussex, England
Died30 December 2006(2006-12-30) (aged 84)
Siena, Italy
Political partyConservative
Belinda Blew-Jones
(m. 1942; died 2003)
Parent(s)John Lambton, 5th Earl of Durham
Diana Mary Farquhar
RelativesAlec Douglas-Home (cousin)
EducationHarrow School
Military service
Branch/serviceBritish Army
UnitRoyal Hampshire Regiment

Early life edit

Lambton was born in Compton, Sussex, the second son of Diana Mary (née Farquhar) and John Lambton, 5th Earl of Durham.[1] He grew up on the family estates centred around Lambton Castle near Washington in County Durham, actually living at the nearby Biddick Hall. He was educated at Harrow School and served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment during the Second World War, before being invalided out. He then did war work in a Wallsend factory.

Marriage and children edit

On 10 August 1942, Lambton married Belinda Bridget "Bindy" Blew-Jones (23 December 1921 – 13 February 2003).[2] She was the daughter of Major Douglas Holden Blew-Jones and his wife Violet Hilda Margaret Birkin,[3] sister of Freda Dudley Ward.[4]

They had five daughters and one son:[5]

Political career edit

Member of Parliament edit

Lambton first stood for Parliament at the 1945 general election in the safe Labour seat of Chester-le-Street, then Bishop Auckland in 1950. He was elected to Durham City Council and to Durham County Council in 1947, serving for two years. He was elected Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1951, where he served until 1973.

Under-Secretary of State edit

In 1970, Lambton was made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (RAF). He succeeded to the Earldom of Durham upon his father's death on 4 February 1970 but disclaimed it on 23 February to continue as an MP and Government Minister. He nonetheless insisted on being addressed as 'Lord Lambton', the form of address appropriate to his former courtesy title. However, a ruling of the Committee for Privileges said that he should not do so in the House of Commons, since he had renounced his peerage titles. Contradictory rulings from two Speakers, Horace King and Selwyn Lloyd, then left the point unresolved.[6]

Resignation edit

In 1973, Lambton's liaisons with prostitutes were revealed in the Sunday tabloid The News of the World. The husband of one of the prostitutes, Norma Levy, had secretly taken photographs of Lambton in bed with Levy and had attempted to sell the photographs to Fleet Street tabloids.[7] As well, a police search of Lambton's home found a small amount of cannabis. On 22 May, Lambton resigned from both his office and Parliament; this caused a by-election for his seat which was won by Alan Beith for the Liberal Party. Shortly after, the name Jellicoe emerged in connection to a rendezvous for one of Norma's girls at a Somers Town mansion block which had been named Jellicoe House, after the earl's kinsman Basil Jellicoe (1899–1935), the housing reformer and priest from Magdalen College (Oxford). There was a confusion and Lord Jellicoe, the Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords, admitted 'casual affairs' with prostitutes from a Mayfair escort agency but denied knowing Norma Levy.[7]

A security inquiry on the prostitution scandal concluded that there had been "nothing in (Lambton's) conduct to suggest that the risk of indiscretions on these occasions was other than negligible". Lambton stated that he had never taken his red state boxes of government documents with him when he visited Norma Levy. The security inquiry was held due to fears that the prostitution scandal may have involved an actual or potential breach of national security (as had occurred in the Profumo scandal in the 1960s).

When Lambton was interviewed by MI5 officer Charles Elwell, Lambton first claimed that the pressure of his job as a minister was what drove him to procure the prostitutes. Later, Lambton stated that his sense of "the futility of the job" and lack of demanding tasks as a junior minister were reasons he went to prostitutes. Finally, Lambton claimed that his judgment was faulty when he went to the prostitutes due to his obsession with the battle over the use of an aristocratic title that had been used by his father; Lambton claimed that he sought to soothe this obsession by engaging in frantic activities such as gardening and debauchery.[8]

Later years edit

For the last three decades of his life, Lambton spent his energies restoring Villa Cetinale in Tuscany
On After Dark in 1991 (at right)

Following the scandal, Lambton retired, separated from his wife and bought Villa Cetinale, a 17th-century villa in Tuscany, where he lived with Claire Ward (born Claire Leonora Baring), mother of actress Rachel Ward and daughter of the cricketer Giles Baring.[9][8] He never divorced his wife Bindy, who died in 2003.

In 1991, Lambton made an extended appearance on the TV discussion programme After Dark, chaired by Helena Kennedy, alongside Duncan Campbell, Jane Moore, Clare Short, Anthony Howard and others.[10]

Despite renouncing his peerage titles in 1970, he continued to use his former courtesy title of Viscount Lambton. However, since it was now a title that had passed by courtesy to his only son, it was argued by Sir Anthony Wagner and others that it was incorrect of Lambton to use the title.[6]

On 30 December 2006, Lambton died in hospital in Siena, Italy.[11][12]

References edit

  1. ^ Goldman, Lawrence (2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. p. 675. ISBN 978-0-19-967154-0.
  2. ^ "'Bindy' Lambton". The Daily Telegraph. 18 February 2003. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006.
  3. ^ Trethewey, Rachel (2018). Before Wallis: Edward VIII's Other Women. The History Press. ISBN 9780750990196. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  4. ^ Durham, Earl of (UK, 1833),, accessed 2 January 2016
  5. ^ "Person Page". Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Obituary". The Telegraph (London). 2 January 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Sex scandal Tory blamed pressure". BBC. 1 January 2004.
  8. ^ a b Edward Pearce, "Obituary: Lord Lambton", The Guardian 2 January 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2007. Note that Claire Ward is called Clare Ward here.
  9. ^ Lord Lambton (obituary), The Times 2 January 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2007.
  10. ^ Details here
  11. ^ "Lord Lambton". 2 January 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Ex-minister Lord Lambton died aged 84". BBC. 31 December 2006.

External links edit

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Anthony Lambton
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Earl of Durham
4 February 1970 – 23 February 1970
Title next held by
Edward Lambton
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Himself as Earl of Durham
Viscount Lambton
23 February 1970 – 30 December 2006
Reason for succession failure:
Peerage Disclaimed
Succeeded by
End of disclamation