Authors and Book Reviews  

April 10 - 17, 2000


 Coastweek   Kenya

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She CLAIMED that Erroll had
been shot by British agents


Coastweek - - A mystery voice had informed Roddy that the chief suspect, Sir Jock Delves Broughton, had actually been working for British intelligence so as to garner information from Erroll.

Broughton's role had been to establish friendship with Erroll upon reaching Nairobi; thence he was to pass on such data as he acquired from Kenya's Assistant Military Secretary himself, to "someone in Nairobi."

Rodwell also promised to let me see a file of confidential correspondence written over several years on the Erroll murder confessing that one letter was from the Coroner on the Broughton case in 1941.

Another referred to a female agent in Nairobi yet having whetted my appetite, Roddy suddenly seemed to have cold feet.

As if stalling for time, he claimed to have temporarily mislaid the papers but when I got back from England scouting for more information on my new project, the 'missing file' had turned up.

True to his word, Roddy handed over these confidential papers.

Coastweek - - Sir Jock Delves
Broughton with a Maasai girl
at Nderit Estate, Nakuru.

One was a hand-written four page letter from the late Kate Challis, who had written in bold capitol letters on her opening page 'Confidential and not for publication.'

She then proceeded to spell out that Erroll had been shot by British agents.

As I gradually deciphered her scrawl, the following statement leapt from the pale blue vellum: "When 'White Mischief' was being filmed in Kenya, a neighbour who worked for M.I.5. [sic] during and before the war, told me that as it was now over forty years ago, she felt able to say that Erroll [sic] was a severe security risk and he was shot, because unlike the Oswald Mosley Nazis who could be interned, Errol's case was much more complex."

Her letter ended, "Don't reply."

Luckily for me Roddy had disobeyed Kate Challis's wishes; that somewhat shocking statement catapulted me into a world about which I knew nothing ... indeed a world of mirrors lay in wait.

My editor, Emma put me in touch with the author Tom Bower, who provided three useful contacts who might be able guide me through the maze.

Before long I was able to establish that the M.I.6. agent in Kenya was Joan Hodgson, whose field had actually been Nairobi for years.

I was even given a physical description by one of her many acquaintances.

Hodgson I was informed was 'of medium height, slim, mousy hair going grey, rather untidy looking and in no way smart, but with plenty to say ... nondescript as are so many M.I.5 and M.I.6 personnel'.

Within eighteen months, three separate sources had corroborated this fact.

Coastweek - - Diani, young
wife, of
Sir Jock Delves

Since publication a fourth affirmation has been made face to face with me; Joan Hodgson 'made no bones about working for M.I.6.

Her offices were not far from the High Street Kensington fire-station.' I felt duty bound to warn Merlin Hay, 24 Earl of Erroll, that he may not necessarily like what I might unearth so as to write a full length biography of his grandfather.

If the 22nd Earl had actually been assassinated, then a full length study of the man was necessary anyhow or we should never know why.

Joss's grandson, displayed faith in me, a total stranger so heaven knows why, allowing me access to correspondence from people who had been prompted to defend his grand-father's character from time to time over the years.

One came from a retired Lt. Colonel John Gouldbourn, living in the north of England.

John Gouldbourn reluctantly agreed to see me, once I had made a few salient points on the telephone.

He had also warned me that I would be 'wasting my time travelling to Lancashire' to see him.

In the sitting room of his bungalow, while his wife went off to make tea, Gouldborn had whipped out his military credentials from his breast pocket as proof of his identity. I felt slightly embarrassed, and even somewhat astonished.

It had simply never occurred to me that I could be interviewing an impostor.

As things turned out, he was behaving impeccably, for my own sake.

John Gouldbourn's warning, for that is what it had, been 'trust no-one' showed just how much he knew what he was about.

His contacts proved to incredibly valuable in due course.

But at this point, they were simply names - people I would have to try and trace, without a single address or telephone number.

His suggestions as to how to go about what seemed to me to be an impossible task were helpful:

"You could ring the Egon Ronay guide, there might be a forwarding address. Try the Financial Times, etc."





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