Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Disappearance of Victor Grayson - Socialist MP

Victor Grayson was perhaps Britain's most radical and rabble rousing MP. Elected Britain's first and perhaps only Socialist MP in 1907 at an age of 25 he stormed through the Yorkshire Hills around Huddersfield and took his fight to Westminster. He was thrown out of the House of Commons calling the MP's murderers for not debating hunger in the ranks of Britain's starving unemployed and their children. In today's Britain with it's doubling Child poverty and burgeoning food banks it strikes a note. Grayson was a thorn in the side of the Labour Party and lacking the backing of officials lost his seat in 1910. His speeches are still today both prophetic and inspiring.  Grayson set up a rival political party to Labour - the British Socialist Party in 1911, and became a free wheel on the radical left, even backing British involvement in World War 1. He enlisted and was injured on the Western Front and looked set for a come back to parliament after 1918. The sudden death of his wife and baby in February 1918 was followed by a series of strange events in 1920, including an attack on him in a London Street, and his eventual disappearance escorted to oblivion in the company of two men who had collected him to leave his lodgings to embark on a long trip. He was never to return.
What happened to him? - Some reports link him to Ireland and a clandestine visit to Dublin. Others suggest that he left Britain to die in Australia or New Zealand. He was subject to a series of supposed sightings in Kent or on a London Street in the next 20 years. Some of his friends claimed he was living secretly in London and living a quiet life working at a London furnishing shop.

More sinister suggestions have been made - that he was murdered at the hands of notorious honours trafficker and political fixer Maundy Gregory. 

Intelligence writer Donald McCormick (Aka Richard Deacon) was in 1970 the first researcher to link the two men, a fact substantiated by Lord Clark of Windermere in interviews with Grayson's Hotel Manageress Hilda Porter in 1985. McCormick claimed to have had possession of letters from Artist George Flemwell who sighted Grayson disappearing into Gregory's Island Bungalow on September 28th 1920 , but this is strongly challenged as a fabrication and McCormick claimed to have sold the letters in 1974.
Grayson's family became alarmed at his disappearance. His daughter last saw him in 1919 and was told he had left on a long trip to write a book. His sister who travelled down to London from Liverpool in 1920 to nurse his injuries found he had left the Georgian House in Bury Street, London and could not find him. In 1927 his brother returned from the merchant navy tried to find him, and his mother appealed to Scotland Yard and the National Newspapers. No luck, despite a deathbed plea to see him before she died, she passed away in 1929 still separated from her missing son. In 1942, his sister who had emigrated to Toronto Canada, urged Scotland Yard to launch a man-hunt for the missing MP. They discovered that Grayson had been attacked but could find no body or trace of a living man matching his description. In 1952, prompted by an anonymous letter Grayson's sister used her life savings to travel to London to seek help from Scotland Yard and the National Newspapers to no avail. Donald Trelford reported that Grayson's file in Scotland Yard's Missing Persons Department was the size of 2 London Telephone Books. That file which existed in 1942, 1948 & 1955 , along with Special Branch, MI5 and other files have long since been lost or destroyed. Attempts by researchers, MPs, Cabinet Minister and authors to see them from the 1960's onwards have met with no success. Because of Grayson's love of drink, and alleged womanising - many have been too quick to discount his possible murder, yet the combination of an attack on his person and his removal from his Mayfair lodgings by 2 unknown men suggest foul play. Certainly something happened to him which prevented his return to see his 6 year old daughter, his mother and sister after 1920, and if alive after 1927 he would have found word to reach out to his family.