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25 January 2011

The fall of John Taylor

From rising star to fraudster.

By David Allen Green

Twenty-five years ago John Taylor was one of the most inspiring and likeable young figures in the Conservative Party.

A barrister in Birmingham, he had an ambition and genuine charm that made him widely regarded as a future member of parliament and minister. It all seemed so straightforward. There was no surprise when he secured the nomination for the safe Tory seat of Cheltenham, nor when he was appointed to be a Home Office ministerial adviser.

Then something bad happened. A shameful and racist local campaign led to a Conservative loss. Taylor seemed to give up front-line politics. However, he did become a life peer, occasionally poking the right of his party for its illiberalism. But he was never a particularly active parliamentarian.

As a peer, he appears to have lost his way. He dishonestly claimed expenses, using an elaborate ruse involving a property he never even visited. And so, 25 years after he was a “coming man” of British politics, he is now just a common criminal: a sad and perhaps remarkable trajectory.

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David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman.