WAS A HORRIBLE MURDER
COMMITTED IN COLD BLOOD !
ONE OF A SIX PART
SPECIAL ARTICLE by
- - IN THE EARLY HOURS of 24 January 1941, Kenya's
Assistant Military Secre-tary, Captain the Hon. Josslyn Victor Hay,
22nd Earl of Erroll was shot at point blank range on a lonely road in
Karen, the outskirts of Nairobi in the Colony of Kenya.
bullet which ended this particular life succeeded also in
setting off half a century of speculation, at a time when
death was an hourly occurrence among men in uniform,
through-out Europe, during the Second World War.
was alleged that the motive the Earl of Erroll's murder, was a
crime committed in revenge.
was an obvious enough motive, especially since the Earl, whose
reputation as a seducer par excellence, of married women, was
as his friends called him, had been conducting a very public
affair with Diana, the bride of Sir Jock Delves Broughton.
newly married couple had wed in South Africa barely six weeks
- - Kenya's
Assistant Military Secretary,
Captain the Hon. Josslyn
Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll
COURTESY - ERROL TRZEBINSKI)
Broughton was obviously the most likely candidate to have taken his
a sensational trial, which enlivened the pages of the tabloids for
weeks in South Africa and London, he was acquitted however.
case fell part on the ballistics evidence and the Coroner brought in
the verdict, 'murder by persons unknown.'
case continued to generate endless speculation, was never
re-investigated, and thus the Erroll murder became one of the last
century's great unsolved crimes: the 'Happy Valley' coterie became
synonymous with the scandal.
own brush with the clique was with Idina, nee Sackville, Joss's
first wife who had abandoned her fourth husband when I met her.
was a young girl, having departed from post war Britain, when I was
newly transplanted to Kenya in the Fifties.
a 'Mau Mau Emergency' was at its height (I never heard the expression
'Happy Valley' - until 'White Mischief' was published in
since writing my first biography, 'Silence
Will Speak' about Denys Finch Hatton, I have frequently
been on the receiving end of resentment for the Happy Valley set.
(British) residents of Kenya have been ill at ease for years with the
popular but dismissive attitude towards themselves and their sybaritic
way of life; the accusation that this had been created largely by
Erroll, the king-pin and his murder, has slipped into legend as the 'White
Mischief Murder' gene-rated more muck-raking.
depicted a nauseous picture of Colonial Europeans and today I have to
say that their resentment about exaggerated tales of debauchery among
a glamorous bunch of aristocratic European settlers, has been
coterie in question, amounted to less than a dozen characters.
Kenya's (Colonial) reputation has suffered badly from this unsolved
murder, what has emerged while researching during the past five years
for my new biography, "The Life and
Death of Lord Erroll", is that the gossip was
clever propaganda, a smoke screen which has been steadfastly fuelled
so as to protect those who arranged for the killing of Erroll in 1941.
implication has successfully been planted that the former British
Colony was filled with wastrels, decadent people, who were too
arrogant to do a hand's turn.
every time there has been any coverage, a subject which has
proliferated down the years, the image has been regurgitated, aided
and abetted relentlessly.
I was quite surprised to discover that the Earl of Erroll, far from
being a thoroughly bad lot, had not got his just desserts, and nor had
he lost his life as the result of a crime of passion.