31 March 1997: Gay mafia buries Scottish Tories – Homosexual links lead to downfall of Scots party.
A gay mafia of young Tory blades has all but buried the party in Scotland. The homosexual links stretch from the party’s grass-roots through to the highest ranks. Scots Secretary Michael Forsyth’s agent Simon Turner – the man running his election campaign – is openly gay. And it was two other ambitious young gays who brought about the downfall of Scots Tory chairman Sir Michael Hirst. They are his former researcher Andrew Barnett and campaign worker Paul Martin.
Barnett yesterday tried to deny any close relationship with Hirst – but a Tory insider said: “The affair was well-known.” The relationship between Hirst and Barnett ended in tears two years ago. Devastated that the affair was over, Barnett poured his heart out to Tory grandees at the Brighton conference in 1995. One Tory source said: “Andrew was made a fool. He was very upset. He is a decent man and I felt sorry for him.” Another Tory close to the debacle at the time said: “Andrew doted on Mickey. But when it was time for him to move on he, understandably, felt spurned.”
Despite the sleaze that has engulfed the party in recent years, there are still some old- fashioned Tories determined to stick to their tradition of family values. It was they who blew the whistle on Hirst because they were sickened by his double standards. The complaint arrived at the desk of Ian Lang, Scots Secretary at the time. Another party insider said: “The matter was referred to Ian Lang, but Hirst denied the affair.”
Barnett’s affair with Hirst began in the early 1990s. The former chairman of the Tory Association at St. Andrews University, was working as a researcher in Hirst’s office. It was the second time Hirst, the promoter of family values, had been embroiled in a homosexual affair with a young Tory hopeful.
He struck up a relationship with Paul Martin who worked in the campaign team in 1987 when Hirst lost the Bearsden and Strathkelvin seat to Labour’s Sam Galbraith. Martin was given the elbow when word spread that he had been talking openly about his fling with father-of-three Hirst.
Concern was growing within the constituency association and Hirst was advised that Martin had to go to avert a scandal. Instead of taking action against Hirst, they moved swiftly to ensure that he was protected and Martin was sent packing.
One source close to the situation at the time said: “The Association was alarmed at all this loose talk and Michael was told he had to get rid of Martin. “He did, but gave him a very good reference to help him get a job. Soon after he stood down he got a top post in the CBI.”
Martin, now 40, had been a Tory councillor in Edinburgh at the age of 21. Three years ago, while employed by the Ministry of Defence, he was at the centre of allegations that he was part of a gay love triangle with English Tory whip Michael Brown and 20-year-old student Adam Morris. He was quite open about his fling with Hirst and boasted about it at a Tory conference. One insider said: “Martin is trouble. He is a vindictive old queen.”
It has been revealed that the gay links with the Tory party stretch from grass-roots wannabes to the very top of the tree. Top Tories have always been uncomfortable with Forsyth’s choice of an open homosexual like Turner for such a high-profile job.
They were also critical of other gay appointments made at the Scottish Tory HQ when Forsyth was party chairman. One source told the Record: “There is always the worry that even a whiff of scandal attached to these people would reflect badly on Forsyth.”
As events unfolded in the Eastwood constituency last week, a small band of high- ranking Tories gathered to make sure Hirst didn’t try to replace Allan Stewart. It was they who tried to get Hirst sidelined two years ago when the Barnett affair broke.
One senior Tory said: “We thought if we didn’t get rid of him he would get rid of us. “No-one listened to us although we tried hard to get him moved to a more junior post. The powers that be are now reaping the inevitable result. “It would not surprise me if someone in our own party shopped Michael to the press because of his own open arrogance.”