Sara Keays (pron. "Keys", born 1 June 1947) was the personal secretary of British Conservative politician Cecil Parkinson. The two became lovers, and 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 Keays 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 Conservative Party, such as Edwina Currie, who said about Keays (whilst having an affair with John Major) in October 1985 "I feel very sorry for Cecil and his family. Most of my thoughts on Sara Keays are unprintable. Perhaps the most polite thing to say is she's a right cow."
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.
Keays published her own book about the controversy, A Question of Judgement, in 1985.
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, horseriding 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.
- "Parkinson quits over lovechild scandal". BBC News. 14 October 1983. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Olga Craig (6 January 2002). "The only promise Cecil Parkinson ever kept – never to see his daughter". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- BBC1 News Summary, 4 January 1984. Sue Lawley states that she was born "in the last hour of 1983".
- Carole Malone (13 January 2002). "Flora's a pawn in this bitter revenge match". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- Simon Hoggart (10 January 2002). "Parkinson's daughter in a touching family drama with a sub-plot of revenge". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Flora Keays wants to meet 'Daddy'". BBC News. 11 January 2002. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- 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.