Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-01 > 1170288493

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] Fw: CORDLE: John Cordle nov/2004
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 00:08:13 -0000

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From: "Peter McCrae" <>
To: "EGS english obits" <>
Cc: "WDB world obits" <>
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 5:18 PM
Subject: CORDLE: John Cordle nov/2004

> John Cordle
> Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 24/11/2004
> The
> John Cordle, who has died aged 92, was Conservative MP for Bournemouth
> East and Christchurch from 1959 to 1977, a disciple of Billy Graham and
> owner of the Church of England Newspaper for many years.
> When he bought it in 1946 he declared his intention to use it to campaign
> against easy divorce and for "high standards of public life, discipline in
> the home and a decisive approach to hooliganism and juvenile delinquency".
> Unfortunately, Cordle's personal conduct fell short of those standards. He
> resigned from the Commons after being implicated in the Poulson corruption
> scandal, while divorce, family troubles and tragedy were to become a
> familiar part of his life, earning the headline "The Curse of the Cordles"
> from the tabloid press.
> Two marriages ended amid spectacular public rancour; his first wife sought
> to have him jailed for contempt of court for breaching a custody order, a
> fate Cordle avoided by pleading parliamentary privilege, though the judge
> condemned his behaviour as "utterly disgraceful".
> When his second marriage began to break up, Cordle posted security guards
> on his country house to prevent his mother-in-law staying with his wife
> and imposed a 7pm curfew on other visitors to her. His third marriage in
> 1976, to his children's nanny, some 35 years his junior, proved more
> lasting.
> He endured appalling misfortune in his family life: his grandson was
> killed in a road accident and his grand-daughter electrocuted; his
> daughter Sophie became a heroin addict and fell into prostitution; his son
> Rupert was jailed for theft (although he subsequently redeemed himself and
> became a respected businessman); Cordle was also predeceased by a son and
> a daughter. He subsequently wrote: "My private life has suffered
> irretrievable sadness through the slurs and innuendos cast upon me, my
> children even more undeservedly."
> John Howard Cordle was born in London on October 11 1912, the son of
> Ernest Cordle, who owned a business supplying linen to hospitals and
> hotels. He was educated at the City of London School and worked in the
> family business until enlisting in the RAF in 1940. On returning to the
> business he found large sums of money had been embezzled, which he had to
> repay, though he still had the means both to buy the Church of England
> Newspaper and develop a glittering social life.
> Cordle was handsome, charming and a lavish host, although the source of
> his money was always something of a mystery. He was a Gold Staff Officer
> at the Coronation, a friend of Princess Margaret and an usher at her
> wedding. He bought the 17th-century Kingston Russell House in Dorset, then
> Malmesbury House in Salisbury Cathedral's close.
> After cutting his political teeth in two Labour strongholds, Cordle landed
> Bournemouth and proved an energetic and popular constituency MP. At
> Westminster his overriding concerns were religious affairs - he was a
> crusading evangelist deeply hostile to "idolatrous Roman practices" - and
> sexual immorality.
> He had a fine turn of phrase and his preoccupation with matters sexual was
> expressed in forthright terms: "The wind of change in our affluent society
> has brought in its wake a gust of lust... our bookstalls and cinema
> screens are shameless, a sure sign of the sickness gripping"; "The
> increase in VD is due to filthy books of pornography... homes are being
> subjected to suggestive, dirty and corrupting plays on ITV and BBC";
> "Priests who indulge in the abominable and intolerable practices of
> buggery and homosexual genital sex should be expelled from the church."
> The BBC purveyed "unclean thoughts in unChristian and anti-moral plays";
> after visiting a strip club he declared them "a blot on national morals
> bringing us into disgrace and shame at home and abroad".
> The Casement diaries were "filth... making his homosexuality quite
> obvious"; Lady Chatterley's Lover was "disgusting and should be dumped
> into the sea".
> The Profumo crisis saw him at his most censorious: "Men who choose to live
> in adultery ought not to be appointed to serve our Queen and country... I
> was appalled to hear that our beloved Queen should be so wrongly advised
> as to give an Audience to a minister who has proved himself so
> untrustworthy... it is an affront to the Christian conscience of our
> nation." This outburst in particular was remembered by many when Cordle
> faced his own political crisis 14 years later.
> Over the years Cordle developed extensive business interests, notably in
> West Africa, and became an associate of John Poulson, the international
> property developer eventually jailed for bribing civil servants and
> councillors.
> A Commons Select Committee found Cordle guilty of contempt of the House
> after establishing that in 1964 he had asked for, and received, £1,000
> from Poulson, without disclosing this connection, for representing him at
> Westminster. The damning phrase in Cordle's letter to Poulson read: "It
> was largely for the benefit of Constructional Promotion (a Poulson
> company) that I took part in a Commons debate on the Gambia and pressed
> HMG to award constructional contracts."
> The conduct of two other MPs involved with Poulson, the former
> Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Reginald Maudling, and a Labour
> MP, Albert Roberts, was also criticised, although less severely than
> Cordle's. Shortly before the report was to be debated, Cordle made a
> personal statement to the House denying any wrongdoing, but he continued,
> in tears: "If a group of colleagues decide unanimously that I was at fault
> in the matter I must bow to their judgment and resign my seat."
> In 1991 Cordle sought to have his name cleared and asked the Clerk of the
> Commons, Sir Clifford Boulton, to examine the "shadow that has lain across
> my life". In reply Boulton noted that the Select Committee had found only
> one instance where Cordle had failed to declare his interest, and that at
> a time when it was a matter of custom and not a rule of the House:
> "Despite the very narrow basis of the committee's criticism, and the
> moderating factors to which they drew attention... you decided to cease to
> be a member.
> "Your personal decision to bring your parliamentary career to an end was
> completely out of scale with the single incident to which the Committee
> draw attention. Nevertheless I hope you will find reassurance in Mr Pym's
> [the then Leader of the House] words that your self denial was respected
> by the House. I have no doubt your conduct on 22 July 1977 was in its
> highest tradition."
> Cordle drew much comfort from this, and in an open letter to the press
> claimed it showed his conduct had been "beyond reproach" and that he had
> resigned only as a matter of honour. He appealed for an end to references
> to him as the "disgraced Member".
> Boulton's generous interpretation of the narrow legal point on which the
> Select Committee based its censure could not take account of the climate
> of opinion in the House and the widespread concern about the evidence of
> corruption in the public services that had been revealed at both Poulson's
> trial and to the Select Committee.
> In fact, by resigning Cordle forestalled a motion being tabled calling for
> his expulsion from the House, which was virtually certain to have been
> carried with the support of many members of his own party.
> Cordle was a member of the Archbishops' Commission on Evangelism from 1943
> to 1946, treasurer of the World Evangelical Alliance (1949-53), a member
> of the Church Assembly (1946-53) and chairman of the Commons
> Ecclesiastical Committee (1975-77).
> By his first wife Grace, whom he married in 1938, he had three sons (and
> one son and one daughter deceased). The marriage was dissolved in 1956 and
> a year later he married Venetia Maynard, by whom he had a son and three
> daughters. This was dissolved in 1971; he married, thirdly, Terttu Heikura
> of Finland, by whom he had two sons.

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