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Lord Smutty; Six days ago Lord Alexander James Berriedale was convicted of under-age sex with girl, 15. Today he admits: 'We're still an item.'.

Byline: By JIM LAWSON

A PEER convicted of underage sex with a girl aged 15 has admitted he is having an affair with his victim.

Lord Alexander James Berriedale's romance with the schoolgirl has been given the seal of approval by both families.

The pair have stunned locals in Wick by openly strolling around hand in hand and going on a series of dates. The girl, now 16, has told friends she plans to marry her 23-year-old lover.

Berriedale known as Berrie works as a kitchen porter in a hotel close to his modest single-storey stone cottage at Barrock, near Thurso.

Just six days after he was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register, he took the girl for dinner in an upmarket hotel.

Lord Berriedale said: 'We are going out together and our families have been very supportive in what has been a difficult time for us. It has been a very stressful time but now we just want to put it behind us and get on with our lives.

'We've had a lovely quiet meal together.'

At Wick Sheriff Court, Berriedale was fined pounds 500 after admitting having sex with a minor.

The case came to court after a concerned passer-by saw them having sex in the road next to an open-air swimming pool in the town.

Berrie, educated at the pounds 2000-aterm Maidwell Hall School in Northampton, met the girl when he arrived in Wick looking for a job.

Lord Berriedale is heir to the ancestral seat at nearby Girnigoe Castle, which the Clan Society hopes to preserve at the cost of pounds 1million.

He is the son and heir of Malcolm Sinclair the 20th Earl of Caithness, a friend of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Earl, chief of the clan Sinclair, was a childhood friend of the prince and Princess Anne.

He was Paymaster General and was made a privy councillor in 1990.

He has been in the House of Lords since 1984 but resigned as Transport Minister in the Lords in 1994 after his wife Diana Berriedale's mother shot herself at the family's Oxfordshire home just before their 19th wedding anniversary.

A friend of Lord Berriedale said last week: 'They have eyes only for each other. You see them around the town hand in hand. They are very much in love.

'Any time he is off he spends with her. What he did was wrong but they are an item. He has got a job as a kitchen porter and he intends to make a career in the hospitality business.

'He was educated at a posh public school but he is not afraid of hard work.

'You don't start out as a kitchen porter if you are not prepared to make a go of it.'

CAPTION(S):

Dad: The 20th Earl of Caithness; Minor setback: Disgraced Berriedale and his lover plan to marry despite under-age sex conviction; Father's arms: Sinclair crest
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 6, 2004
Words:487
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