May 8, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 13 months old

Through the years: Lincolnshire politicians’ run-ins with the law

It is safe to say punishments have calmed over the years

By Local Democracy Reporter

The author of Kane and Abel jailed for perjury, the MP for Lincoln executed for his role in the 16th century Lincolnshire Rising, and an ancestor of Meghan Markle beheaded for treason against Henry VIII – Lincolnshire has had its fair share of turbulent politicians across history.

As political discourse reaches what many describe as unprecedented levels of division, many are asking if there has ever been a time in human history like this?

Thankfully though, these days politicians committing acts of treason against the monarchy doesn’t tend to happen, as a rule of thumb. However, it was common practice in yesteryear, and a few of Lincolnshire’s own paid the ultimate price for their alleged crimes.

The most recent criminal conviction against an MP representing the Greater Lincolnshire area came in the late 1990s, and it was somewhat of an anomaly.

From perjury to treason, overturned election fraud charges to creating a power monopoly in the House of Commons, here are the most notable run-ins Lincolnshire MPs have had with the law throughout the course of political history.

Jeffrey Archer

Former Conservative politician and author Jeffrey Archer, was imprisoned for perjury.

You may best know Jeffrey Archer as the author of Kane and Abel, one of the best selling books of all time, but the former Lincolnshire MP has quite the colourful political history alongside his work writing novels.

Jeffrey Archer served as Member of Parliament for Louth between 1969 and 1974, but he did not seek re-election after this stint due to being a casualty of a fraudulent investment scheme.

The debacle with Canadian company Aquablast left him some £500,000 in debt, and he stood down as an MP at the 1974 General Election as fears of bankruptcy loomed.

While giving evidence in the Aquablast court trial in 1975, Archer denied accusations that he stole three suits from a department store, but in the late 1990s he would later acknowledge that he had taken them.

Following this debacle, Archer was welcomed back into politics by Margaret Thatcher, who made him Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party in 1985 – though this only lasted a year as he resigned in October 1986, following a News of The World article accusing him of paying a prostitute £2,000 via an intermediary.

The Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare earned life peerage at the House of Lords in the early 1990s, but his reputation was damaged by a 1987 libel case which ended up with a jail term 14 years later.

In July 2001 he was found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice in connection with his 1987 libel case with The Daily Star, sentencing him to four years in prison – a term he served half of before his release.

The court heard how Archer had faked diary entries and asked someone to provide a fake alibi in the libel case, which translated to perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Fiona Jones

The MP for Newark in Labour’s landslide 1997 election victory, Fiona Jones’ time in the political space was cut short by legal storms, and her life was seemingly cut short by the aftermath.

Jones was accused of fraudulently failing to declare the full extent of her election costs, leading to a conviction on the grounds of election fraud in 1999.

The Labour whip was swiftly withdrawn, and she had become the first MP to be disqualified from House of Commons membership for election fraud offences since it was introduced by an act in 1983.

However, after the Court of Appeal overturned her conviction just weeks later, Fiona Jones was reinstated to the House of Commons and her disqualification was revoked.

After losing her seat at the 2001 General Election, Jones studied law at the University of Lincoln and brought a civil case to Nottinghamshire Police for malicious prosecution.

This case was dismissed in December 2005, leaving Jones some £45,000 out of pocket as a result, and leaving her political career in complete tatters.

Jones was tragically found dead at her home in Saxilby in 2007, reportedly surrounded by 15 empty vodka bottles.

Her cause of death was reported as alcoholism or alcoholic liver disease.

Thomas Moigne

Going way back in time to the mid-1500s, we come to the case of Thomas Moigne – the former Justice of the Peace for Lincolnshire, as well as an ex-Recorder and MP for Lincoln.

Moigne was instrumental in the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536, which was a revolt against the separation of the Church of England from authority at the hands of Henry VIII, as well as the dissolution of the monasteries set out by Thomas Cromwell.

As the rising collapsed, Moigne, who was both the Recorder and MP for Lincoln at the time, was captured and brought to London.

Most of those who took part were pardoned, but given Moigne’s close relationship with the leader of the rising in Yorkshire, Robert Aske, he was tried for treason in 1537 and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered in Lincoln.

His land was seized following his death, but was later recovered by his brothers in 1544.

John Hussey

Lord Hussey of Sleaford. | Photo: Wikipedia

The 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford was another Lincolnshire politician executed on King Henry VIII’s orders for alleged treason offences.

John Hussey, a former knight of the shire for Lincolnshire after being knighted by Henry VIII, also served as the Sheriff of Lincolnshire, and was even chamberlain for Henry VIII’s daughter Mary.

He was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire in the mid-1400s, dying aged 70 after being beheaded at Tower Hill as part of treason charges brought on by the then-King Henry VIII.

Henry VIII appointed him as Lord Hussey of Sleaford in 1529, and even invited him to the christening of Queen Elizabeth I in 1533 – but three years later he was at the helm of an alleged conspiracy to dethrone the king.

Lord Hussey was implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, a rebellion accused of attempting to overthrow the King and change laws. It is a charge he consistently denied.

Despite his denial, he was executed alongside his cousin Thomas Darcy after being found guilty by the House of Lords. It is believed that these charges may have been levied due to Hussey’s sympathies with the Catholic faith.

Descendants of Lord Hussey were left struggling financially and socially after this, as the family’s assets and barony were forfeited following his execution – which played a part in Captain Christopher Hussey’s emigration to the USA.

This is where a unique connection with someone at the centre of a more modern royal storm makes itself known.

Hussey’s great-great-great grandson was Captain Christopher Hussey, who is significant in this story as he left England in the 1650s to become a founding father of Nantucket – an island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the United States of America.

Ten generations down that family line and we find Thomas Markle, the father of 41-year-old Meghan, who first became famous for her acting role on Suits, before engaging in a romance and eventual marriage with Prince Harry.

John Bussy

Sir John Bussy represented Lincolnshire or Rutland a total of eleven times in his 14th century political career, but it was his treason conviction that stood to be the ultimate definer of his legacy.

The three-time Speaker of the House of Commons and Sheriff of Lincolnshire’s downfall came when he forced members of parliament to delegate authority to a committee he was a member of in 1397.

He secured a monopoly of power as a result, but when Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV) forcibly returned from exile to claim his inheritance in 1399, Bussy was one of the fall guys.

Bussy and two others were captured at Bristol Castle and beheaded for treason against the Kingdom, as Henry IV overthrew and imprisoned King Richard II, after Richard blocked Henry IV’s inheritance to his father’s territory.

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