The Returning Officer: South Molton

R P (Rudolph) Messel was the Labour candidate for South Molton in 1929 and 1931; he also stood for Croydon South in the 1932 by-election and Birmingham Aston in 1935. He was an Oxford contemporary of Evelyn Waugh; both were members of the “Hypocrites Club”. In 1936, he was asked to go to Colombia to trace a group of German refugees from Hitler who had gone there to try to establish a colony.

In Refuge in the Andes (1939), he wrote about the problem of Nazi influence in the region: “However melodramatic it might sound, the hand of the Gestapo was clutching at the Colombian-Andes, and for all I know, at Chile, Peru and Ecuador as well.”