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Antony Claud Frederick Lambton (10 July 1922 – 30 December 2006), briefly 6th Earl of Durham, styled before 1970 as Viscount Lambton, and widely known as "Lord Lambton", was a Conservative Member of Parliament and a cousin of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the former Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. Lambton resigned from Parliament and ministerial office in 1973.
Lambton grew up on the family estates centred on Lambton Castle near Washington in County Durham, actually living at the nearby Biddick Hall. He was educated at Harrow School and served for a period in the Hampshire Regiment during the Second World War, before being invalided out. He then did war work in a Wallsend factory. Lambton married Belinda (Bindy) Blew-Jones (1921–2003) in 1942. They had five daughters including Lucinda (the writer and architectural commentator) and Anne (an actress), and one son, Edward, who fought Berwick-upon-Tweed for the Referendum Party at the 1997 General Election, and who inherited the title upon the 6th Earl's death.
Member of Parliament
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
Lambton was made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (RAF) in 1970. 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, though 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. Contradictory rulings from two speakers, Horace King and Selwyn Lloyd, then left the point unresolved.
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 Ms. Levy and had attempted to sell the photographs to Fleet Street tabloids. 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, which 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.
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.
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, née Baring, mother of actress Rachel Ward and daughter of the cricketer Giles Baring. He never divorced his wife Bindy, who died in 2003.
Despite renouncing his titles, he continued to use his former courtesy title Viscount Lambton, although, since it was now a title that had passed by courtesy to his eldest son, it was argued by Sir Anthony Wagner and others, that this was incorrect. Lambton died in his Italian home on 30 December 2006.
Titles from birth
- The Hon. Antony Lambton (10 July 1922 – 31 January 1929)
- Viscount Lambton (31 January 1929 – 25 October 1951)
- Viscount Lambton, MP (25 October 1951 – 4 February 1970)
- The Rt Hon. The Earl of Durham (4 February 1970 – 23 February 1970)
- Antony Lambton, MP * (23 February 1970 – 8 November 1973)
- Antony Lambton * (8 November 1973 – 30 December 2006)
* After disclaiming his titles in 1970, Lambton preferred the style "Lord Lambton"
The film character Lord Drysdale in The Bank Job is based on Lambton.
- "'Bindy' Lambton". The Daily Telegraph. 18 February 2003.
- "Obituary". The Telegraph (London). 2 Jan 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
- David Jones, "Call girl who nearly toppled a government reveals all", Daily Mail, 26 January 2007
- "Sex scandal Tory blamed pressure". BBC. 1 January 2004.
- "Interview with Norma Levy". Daily Mail. 26 January 2007.
- "Gardens of the Villa Cetinale". Gardens of Tuscany. Retrieved 23 November 2007.
- Anonymous. Lord Lambton (obituary), The Times 2 January 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2007.
- Edward Pearce, "Obituary: Lord Lambton", The Guardian 2 January 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2007. Note that Claire Ward is called Clare Ward here.
- Richard Kay. ."Viscount Lambton's lover loses her palace", Daily Mail 30 July 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2007.
- "Ex-minister Lord Lambton died aged 84". BBC. 31 December 2006.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Anthony Lambton
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed
1951 – 1973
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|Earl of Durham
4 February 1970 – 23 February 1970
|Titles in pretence|
Himself as Earl of Durham
|— TITULAR —
23 February 1970 – 30 December 2006
Reason for succession failure:
End of disclamation