Sara Keays (born 1 June 1947) is the former mistress and personal secretary of British Conservative politician Cecil Parkinson. Keays' public revelation of her pregnancy and of their twelve-year long affair led to his resignation as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the government of Margaret Thatcher.
Parkinson was forced to resign on 14 October 1983 after it was revealed that Sara was bearing his child, Flora Keays. Subsequently, as a result of a dispute over child maintenance payments, Parkinson (with Keays' initial consent) was able to gain an injunction in 1993, forbidding the British media from making any reference to their daughter.
At the time of the revelation of Parkinson's relationship with Sara Keays in 1983, Parkinson made much of what he described as the volume of supportive letters which he had received. Keays was attacked by many in the Tory party, such as Edwina Currie branding her a cow for destroying his ministerial career. By 2001, however, the media focused more upon Flora and her difficulties than in protecting Parkinson's reputation, so more voices were raised in criticism of Parkinson.
Flora Keays (born Merton, Greater London) has learning disabilities and Asperger syndrome, and had an operation to remove a brain tumour when she was four, which is thought[by whom?] to have caused her problems.
The court order was the subject of some controversy until its expiry when Flora Keays turned 18 at the end of 2001. It was noted in the press that Parkinson had never met her and presumably had no intention of doing so. While he had financially assisted with Flora's education and upkeep, it was publicly pointed out that he had never sent her a birthday card and that her mother assumed that Flora could never expect to receive one.
In January 2002, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary film on Sara and Flora Keays. In it Flora said: “I would like to see him. If he loved me, he would want to see me and be in my everyday life…. I think my father has behaved very badly towards me. I feel jealous that my mother has known him but I haven’t, and jealous of other people who go on holiday with their fathers, when I don’t.” Sara Keays is shown telling her daughter that her father has never seen her because "he didn't want anything to do with us."
Sara Keays, who was forced to educate her daughter at home, and encouraged her in ballet, gymnastics, horse riding and trampolining, said Lord Parkinson's reappointment by William Hague as Tory party chairman caused the youngster problems when she finally secured a place at a secondary school: "It was torture for her. She was bullied, just because somebody thought it was necessary for him to have his job back, basically", she said.
Speaking ahead of the film, Sara Keays angrily denied that she fell pregnant to trap her lover and attacked Downing Street and Conservative Central Office for conducting a "very powerful and all pervasive disinformation campaign" to discredit her at the time.
Book reviewer, Ann Scott, commented: "I have had an interest in Sara Keays and her significance for public debates around power and sexuality ever since her statement to The Times in October 1983. There she did more than put her side of the story of her relationship with MP Cecil Parkinson: she challenged the hypocrisy of newspapers like the Daily Telegraph, which felt that a discreet abortion was ‘greatly to be preferred’ to a scandal. ‘I was not aware’, she wrote then, ‘that political expediency was sufficient grounds for an abortion under the 1967 Act’ (The Times, 14 October 1983). The Times leader column, for its part, acknowledged that Keays had squarely faced the issue of the double standard in matters of sexual morality, especially in political life."
A customer reviewed 'The Black Book' as follows: "Liking this type of book I bought it but on reading it I realised that it wasn't Ms Keays' writing skills that got her this book published. The idea is a good one - Secretary to the Chief Whip unwittingly finds the infamous Black Book of gossip and sleaze about MPs' private lives. The CIA and MI5 get involved to discredit her and all turns out well in the end. The story takes a good half of the book to get going before anything really happens. The characters are not very well developed, the story doesn't flow at all and the end is dreadfully anticlimactic. The book just stops before half of the loose ends have been cleared up."
- "Parkinson quits over lovechild scandal". BBC News. 1983-10-14. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- "Flora Keays wants to meet 'Daddy'". BBC News. 2002-01-11.
- Olga Craig (2002-01-06). "The only promise Cecil Parkinson ever kept - never to see his daughter". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Carole Malone (2002-01-13). "Flora's a pawn in this bitter revenge match". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- "Flora Keays wants to meet 'Daddy'". BBC News. 2002-01-11. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- Ann Scott (1989). "A question of judgement: ‘He was a Cabinet Minister and I was merely a candidate’". PEP. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Customer Review (1999-05-28). "A good idea but a poorly written anticlimax". Amazon. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Karen McVeigh 'A Tale of Two Daughters' The Scotsman, 10 January 2002. Article about Flora Keays and her half-sister, Mary Parkinson.
- Angela Levin "The brutal sex attack that nearly destroyed Cecil Parkinson's child" Daily Mail, 14 November 2008. Article about Flora and Sara today, still focusing on Flora's medical condition.