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9 British Politicians & The Scandals That Ruined Them

When the electorate sprinkles fairy dust on a vainglorious, thrusting politician and sends them to Parliament, we expect the expected. Once ensconced in his seat, our representative will be privy to all manner of temptation. The great and good might just succumb. Here are nine that did. And in the UK, it's nearly always sex that does it.

1. Keays To The Door

The scandal: In 1983 Cecil Parkinson, the 50-year-old Chairman of the Conservative Party "“ that slicked-backed golden boy of Tory politics "“ was found to be conducting an extra-marital affair with 34-year-old Sara Keays. And she was carrying his child.

The fallout: Keays told her story to the Times; Parkinson resigned his post. On New Year's Eve 1983, Keays gave birth to Flora.

Political suicide? Yes. Took the more junior posts of Energy Secretary and Transport Secretary; stood down at the 1992 Election.

2. Get Yer Kit On!

The scandal: In 1992, David Mellor, jut-toothed rising star in the Conservative Party and heritage minister, enjoyed a passionate affair with a little-known actress called Antonia de Sancha "“ she'd starred as a one-legged prostitute who shags the pizza boy in the straight-to-bin film The Pieman. During their conference it was alleged Mellor had romped in his Chelsea football kit.

The fallout: The Sun screamed "FROM TOE JOB TO NO JOB." De Sancha employed PR guru Max Clifford to milk her moment for all it was worth. Mellor posed for photos with his cuckolded wife Judith and their two boys. Britain cringed. Mellor resigned.

Political suicide? Yes. Remained MP for Putney until the 1997 General Election. Then appointed Chairman of the Government's Task Force on Football. He later left his wife. He currently presents If You Like That, You'll Like This on Classic FM.

3. Don't Badger The Witness

The scandal: In 1998, Ron Davies, the then Welsh Secretary, had "a moment of madness." He told police he had been robbed at knifepoint after meeting a stranger, one Donald Fearon, while taking a bracing stroll through a gay meeting place on a moonlit Clapham Common.

The fallout: The first person to resign from Blair's Cabinet. Later admitted he was bisexual.

Political suicide? Not yet. For that Davies needed to be caught in the bushes with a stranger at Tog Hill, a beauty spot near Bath. "I have actually been watching badgers since first thing this morning," said he. Quit Labour in 1994. Badgers kept silent.

4. Dead Reckoning

stonehouse.jpgThe scandal: In 1974, John Stonehouse, Labour MP for Wednesbury (now Walsall North) faked his own death to escape a Department of Trade investigation into his business empire. Eventually tried and sentenced to seven years jail.

The fallout: Fooled everyone, including his wife, daughter mother, his party and the BBC. Bizarrely, returned to take up his seat. In 1976, the party demanded his resignation.

Political suicide? Deader than he'd ever been when merely pretending to be dead. Died for real in 1988. Apparently.

5. Spinning Out Of Control

The scandal: 9/11/2001. Thousands dead. World in shock. And Jo Moore, spin doctor to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, sends out an email saying: "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury." Classy.

The fallout: This was cynicism "“ or "spinicism" "“ at its very worst. Surely Byers had to sack her. But he didn't. This was the beginning of his end, and in May 2002 he bit the bullet "“ his resignation buried at a time when Westminster was in recess.

Political suicide? No. Byers was more a victim of the time than of his own behaviour. He remains an MP "“ albeit buried on the backbenches.

6. Tory Falls On His Sword

The scandal: Tory MP Jonathan Aitken appealed to "the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play."

He'd been accused by the press of being involved in an arms deal with Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia. "Never! Not in this world!" said Aitken.

"If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play," he added, "so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."

Hurrah! He took the Guardian to court. He lost. Liar! He was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to perjury.

The fallout: Resigned from John Major's Cabinet before the trial "“ to spend more time with his lawyers. Lost his seat to Labour in 1997.

Political suicide? Yes. Aitken made noises about returning to parliament as a Tory MP, but he's not wanted any more.

7. A Family Man

clark.jpgThe scandal: Vain, reckless, maverick, entertaining, philandering and astute, Tory Alan Clark would go far in politics.

He slept with the wife and daughter of South African judge James Harkness. Clark suggested he should be "horse-whipped" for all his extra-marital affairs.

The fallout: The man whose diary was turned into a six-part series for BBC Four "“ the castle-dweller who thought police following his speeding car were his escort "“ was never going to be done down so easily. The affair produced a great anecdote. And there were plenty of envious glances from his colleagues.

Political suicide? Sure, he quit politics at the 1992 election, but missed it greatly. Died while MP for Kensington and Chelsea.

8. Bottoms Up

The scandal: In 1981, ginger Labour MP Allan Roberts visited Berlin's Buddy Club. A witness claims Allan was approached by a man clad in an SS uniform. "Name," he demanded. "Allan," said Allan. "Nein," said the German. "It is Rover." He then attached a lead to Allen's studded dog collar and whipped him before a baying crowd.

The fallout: He denied ever being into bondage. He said he'd been drunk, fallen over and injured himself.

Political suicide? No. Received a massive vote of confidence from his local party members. When he died in 1990, he had a spanking good majority of over 24,000.

9. The Greatest

The scandal: The LibDems might not be able to point to much scandal, but they can boast of Horatio Bottomley, a gifted cheat of flamboyant character, widely regarded by historians as the most corrupt MP of all time. He was, in 1922, jailed for seven years for various frauds.

The fallout: Persuaded the prosecution to allow him to break each day at 11:30 so that he could drink a bottle of champagne. Tried a comeback. But failed.

Political suicide? Yes. Remained in the public eye, touring the Empire lecturing.

Paul Sorene is the Anorak. He survives on donations and the tolerance of Old Mr Anorak, his patron. Paul is hawked out to various media outlets whenever OMA is low on supplies. Paul has written for numerous news organs, and will be filing occasional reports from the UK for mental_floss.

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25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
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Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.

1. PRINCE CHARLES

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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.

2. PRINCE WILLIAM

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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.

3. PRINCE GEORGE 

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On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.

4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE 

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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.

5. PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.

6. PRINCE HARRY

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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.

7. PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.

8. PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK

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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)

9. PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK

Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.

10. PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.

11. JAMES, VISCOUNT SEVERN

 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)

12. LADY LOUISE MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR

Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.

13. PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”

14. PETER PHILLIPS

Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.

15. SAVANNAH PHILLIPS

Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.

16. ISLA PHILLIPS

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).

17. ZARA TINDALL

 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.

18. MIA TINDALL

Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.

19. DAVID ARMSTRONG-JONES, 2ND EARL OF SNOWDON

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images

David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.

20. CHARLES ARMSTRONG-JONES, VISCOUNT LINLEY

Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
Chris Jackson-WPA Pool/Getty Images

David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.

21. LADY MARGARITA ARMSTRONG-JONES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley
HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

22. LADY SARAH CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service
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Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.

23. SAMUEL CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.

24. ARTHUR CHATTO

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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.

25. PRINCE RICHARD, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

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20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins
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To celebrate World Penguin Day (which is today, April 25), here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

emperor penguin
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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

Gentoo Penguin
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4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

emperor penguins
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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

molting penguin
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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

king penguins
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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

chinstrap penguins
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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

maegellic penguin nesting
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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

emperor penguins
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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguins nest
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14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

penguin chicks
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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

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