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A FORMER Tory minister has been implicated in the Duchess of Argyll's "headless man" sex scandal of the 1960s.

An inquiry has confirmed screen idol Douglas Fairbanks Jnr was the man seen with the duchess in an infamous series of four, sexually-explicit photos.

But another Polaroid picture showed the duchess performing a similar sex act on a different man- and that man is now thought to have been the former Secretary of State for Defence, Duncan Sandys.

Just before her death in 1993, the duchess was asked by a friend about the identity of the second man and her reply left little room for doubt.

She said: "Of course, sweetie, the only Polaroid camera in the country at the time had been lent to the Ministry of Defence."

It is nearly four decades since the Duke of Argyll divorced his wife, Margaret, in a case which scandalised British society. The "headless man" photographs started as a private joke, but became a key piece of evidence at the 1963 hearing.

It was perhaps a sign of the times that after the photos were shown in court, the judge described what the duchess was doing as "disgusting sexual activities".

The hearing destroyed the duchess's reputation - and sent the then Tory government into turmoil.

The Cabinet were already reeling from the Profumo scandal.

Now the Tories were facing claims that Sandys, son-in-law of Winston Churchill, was the "headless man".

The Cabinet appointed the judge, Lord Denning, to investigate.

On four of the photographs, there were hand-written captions and Denning guessed, correctly, that by matching the handwriting, he would be able to identify the headless man.

He invited five key suspects, including Sandys and Fairbanks, to the Treasury and, as they arrived, each had to sign the visitor's register. A graphologist analysed the handwriting and the results were conclusive - Fairbanks was the man.

Sandys seemed to be in the clear, but there was another picture of an apparently naked duchess with a different man.

She looked set to take the secret of his identity to her grave - until she gave that broad hint to close friend Paul Vaughan.

Details of their conversation - and the background to the Denning inquiry - are revealed in Channel 4' Secret History at 9pm tonight.

Vaughan is in little doubt that Sandys was the second man and he told the programme: "She wanted someone to know."
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Author:Spavin, Vicky
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 10, 2000
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