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The Life and Death of Lord Erroll: The Truth Behind the Happy Valley Murder
Errol Trzebinski

The Life and Death of Lord Erroll: The Truth Behind the Happy Valley Murder
Errol Trzebinski

The true story of the life and mysterious murder of the most talked-about and glamorous member of Kenya’ s notorious Happy Valley set.Since Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll, was discovered dead in his car with a bullet through his head just outside Nairobi in 1941, speculation has not ceased as to the culprit and motive for his murder. The authorities seemed satisfied with the highly sensationalised trial of the only suspect, Jock Broughton, the cuckolded husband of Erroll’s last lover, Diana. A not-guilty verdict was returned after a baffling display of confusing evidence and clumsy police work. Trzebinski, who has lived in Kenya for 30 years, was not satisfied with the conflicting gossip on the case, none of whose evidence adds up, including that of the celebrated White Mischief by James Fox. In this gripping evocation of a glamorous, decadent and sinister life, Trzebinski uses her renowned biographer’s skill to unlock the mystique surrounding the man, and the mystery enveloping his death. Her investigations lead her to astonishing conclusions about the true motive for his murder and a conspiracy of confusion that finds its source in Whitehall’s War Office.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LORD ERROLL

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE HAPPY VALLEY MURDER

Errol Trzebinski

WITH EMMA PERY

Dedication (#ulink_188227f1-1808-5e97-afbc-e105f5cf1137)

For the grandchildren and their childrenespecially the Hon. Harry, Amelia, Laline and Richard Hay

Epigraph (#ulink_b0a17e04-2565-5c90-b575-662293c6a3ae)

‘There’s something the dead are keeping back’

Robert Frost

‘There’s always something more to everything’

Robert Frost

Contents

Cover (#u098c5008-bd12-51e7-ae17-84f412214dfd)

Title Page (#ua1f36a43-2af9-5c0f-b3b4-c813bf484d6c)

Dedication (#uf06bf0db-6601-55d5-8544-a9148b9bc494)

Epigraph (#ua7ed0298-214d-553a-89dc-d638d2dd9b58)

Prologue (#ufc67b488-2435-5090-94f3-83d3f9e8798c)

1 Quest for the Truth (#u6e07b670-d956-5cda-b728-da1ed6d8c7ea)

2 Gnarled Roots (#ue72ca745-90ec-52de-9214-f317cd4467d3)

3 Boyhood and Eton (#ubeb8d0db-068d-5dbf-881c-d5cf1e093439)

4 To Hell with Husbands (#u9ccfe98d-f42c-5154-89d3-13e5d50a434d)

5 Slains (#u6fdd9510-b3b6-5e48-8d8a-2502626de655)

6 Oserian (#litres_trial_promo)

7 Blackshirts in Kenya? (#litres_trial_promo)

8 Josh Posh on the Warpath (#litres_trial_promo)

9 The Infernal Triangle (#litres_trial_promo)

10 The Investigation (#litres_trial_promo)

11 The Sallyport Papers (#litres_trial_promo)

12 All’s Fair in Love and War (#litres_trial_promo)

Appendix (#litres_trial_promo)

Epilogue (#litres_trial_promo)

Bibliography (#litres_trial_promo)

Index (#litres_trial_promo)

Acknowledgements (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

Notes (#litres_trial_promo)

Other Works (#litres_trial_promo)

Poem (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Prologue (#ulink_317f33f0-afa0-5c0e-9c33-80bb9aefeaa1)

On 24 January 1941 Captain the Hon. Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll, Hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland, was shot in the head. His body was discovered in a hired Buick at a crossroads on the Ngong – Nairobi road, a few miles from Nairobi. The murderer has never been found. The prime suspect was Sir Delves Broughton, 11th Baronet, whose wife Diana was having an affair with Erroll at the time. Broughton was tried for the murder, but acquitted. There the matter rested – though not exactly in peace. The shooting of Lord Erroll set off a volley of speculation that resonates to this day.

In the early 1980s James Fox’s White Mischief was published. An intriguing search for the culprit, it had all the ingredients of a classic detective story, enlivened by a cast of glamorous characters determined to be the sources of their own ruin, whether by excesses of drink, drugs or sex or general fecklessness. The main players in White Mischief were all members of Nairobi’s notorious Muthaiga Club – so snobbish that even Kenya’s governors were vetted for membership. Posterity found it convenient to regard Muthaiga almost as a stage upon which these colourful characters paraded their vices in all their glorious decadence. Broughton, the jealous old cuckold robbed of his luscious young bride, wreaked murderous revenge upon his rival. The implication was that he escaped justice thanks to his privileged position in a society that closed ranks and protected its own. Fox drew a dazzling portrait of this clique of 1930s settlers of the Wanjohi Valley – known as Happy Valley – in the Aberdare mountain range about a hundred miles north of Nairobi. His version of events was an indictment of this exclusive society, a perfect story for a post-colonial age when there was no room for sympathy for any European settlers – past or present – on the African continent. During the final years of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the prevailing impression was that white settlers in Africa were simply no good.

White Mischief was rapturously received in Britain and the States. The Wanjohi Valley settlers were not best pleased with the light in which the book portrayed their forebears, however. Its publication caused a furore there – some members of this community begged the Kenya-raised writer Elspeth Huxley to go into print to defend their reputations.

(#litres_trial_promo) The pioneers’ lives had contained almost intolerable hardships and, for the majority of settlers, the struggle to survive the African climate and make a living continued into the generation that included Lord Erroll. Yet they all seemed to have been condemned by White Mischief for the sins of a few. Whenever the book came up in conversation among Wanjohi Valley’s European inhabitants, hackles were raised.

The 1988 film version of White Mischief – with Charles Dance, Greta Scacchi and Joss Ackland playing out the ill-fated love-triangle – reinforced the muck-raking, cinematic treatment necessitating further distillation of plot and characters at the expense of factual accuracy. The release of the film spawned an astonishing amount of hype and resentment. Letters were published afresh, reviews proliferated all over again. Cannibalised articles fomented all the inaccuracies and misrepresentations, again inflaming the second-generation settlers who had known the original characters. There was a variety of reactions from speculation on who the murderer really was to outrage at the kind of coverage the case has received ever since, in which Lord Erroll’s reputation certainly seems to have been exaggerated. He was no angel, but there is not a shred of evidence that he drank heavily; or that he indulged in orgies – accusations that have since his death been levelled at him by gossip-mongers. The only record of an orgy comes from a couple who turned up at Lord Erroll’s first wife Idina’s home Clouds in the early thirties – after she and Joss divorced. They came into the drawing-room that moonlit night to find the room ‘full of writhing bodies’.

(#litres_trial_promo) Joss had not even been present.

Joss’s affairs were not as numerous as the public have been led to believe since his death, and he had never impregnated women carelessly. Also, he had had the realism not to marry anybody whose feelings would be hurt by infidelity. Far from corrupting the young – another frequent allegation against him – he had only one love affair with a woman younger than himself – she was twenty-seven. He did not smoke or take drugs; in fact, as far as these habits were concerned, he was abstemious in the extreme.
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