This is the biography of John Stonehouse, Labour cabinet minister and Privy counsellor, spy for the Czech State Security (StB) and convicted fraudster. Stonehouse rose to Privy Counsellor and Cabinet Minister in Harold Wilson Labour government in the late 1960s, but then fell dramatically, committing fraud and betraying his wife and family through an affair with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, before faking his own death off a Miami beach in 1974. He was soon apprehended, in Australia, where he was initially thought by the police to be Lord Lucan, that other notable fugitive from justice of the time. As a British MP he was able to stay in Australia without a valid passport and he could not be extradited. When Stonehouse eventually returned to the UK, he continued, much to the dismay of Wilson, to work as an MP for a full year before he faced trial at the Old Bailey for fraud in 1976.

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‘The minister’s nephew recounts an extraordinary life . . . a vivid account’

‘Completely absorbing and told with huge compassion, integrity and skill’
CAROL ANN LEE, author of The Murders at White House Farm and A Passion For Poison

‘What a book. I didn’t have to turn the pages. They turned themselves I literally consumed the book in just a few hungry sittings . . . Julian Hayes is perfectly placed to tell this story, particularly it’s captivating human side . . . most definitely a must read’
DR SALEYHA AHSAN, filmmaker and journalist, Cambridge

In November 1974, British MP and former cabinet minister John Stonehouse walked into the sea off a beach in Miami and disappeared, seemingly drowned.

Then he was found – on the other side of the world, in Australia – and his extraordinary story began to come to light: a Labour cabinet minister and a devoted family man; also in a long-term affair with his secretary, and a spy for the Czech State Security agency, who had committed fraud and attempted to fake his own death to escape catastrophic business failures.

Was it a mental breakdown as he later claimed? Or were there more sinister reasons for his dramatic disappearance?

This is the definitive biography of Stonehouse, written by Julian Hayes, who, as the son of Stonehouse’s nephew and lawyer, Michael Hayes, is uniquely placed to tell the story of this charismatic but deeply flawed politician. As a criminal lawyer in London, Hayes has used his in-depth knowledge and experience of the criminal courts, not least the Old Bailey, where the Stonehouse trial took place, to forensically examine Stonehouse’s story, including Czech defector Josef Frolìk’s claim that he was a spy.

Hayes has unearthed secret reports in the archives in Prague written by Stonehouse’s former spymasters. He has also gleaned much from family members and lawyers involved in the trial and from the trial documents and other government papers held in archives in the UK and Australia.

Additional information

Weight 0.66 kg
Dimensions 23.6 × 15.8 × 3.8 cm










941.085092 (edition:23)


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