THE TIMES yesterday (October 6) carried an Obituary of another Knighted media chancer, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, hot on the heels, or onto the hot heels of Sir Harold Evans.
But it does not pretend that Worsthorne was the greatest and most ethical journalist of all time, or even in the running.
Some readers of my vintage may remember when Worsthorne was ready to be quoted on the BBC, or may remember when he wrote for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH or edited the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH or had a column in THE SPECTATOR. He was 97 when he died.
He was full of rightwing vitriol, castigating fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, trade unionists, anti-apartheid campaigners, and of course Irish people of republican or mildly nationalist sentiment.
But PEREGRINE GERARD WORSTHORNE was not all he purported to be. His father, Colonel Alexander Koch de Gooreynd came from a wealthy family in Belgium, settled in England, served in the so-called Irish Guards and married Priscilla Reyntigns, who gave birth to two sons, Peregrine being the younger. Priscilla then deserted the Colonel who was a wastrel who squandered his substantial inheritance.
When Peregrine stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament, he adopted the surname “WORSTHORNE” the name of a village in Lancashire.
He swung both ways sexually, claiming to have been seduced by the jazzman and writer Grorge Melly, and was married for forty years during which he was constant only in his infidelities. He abused drugs in quantity.
IIn 1948 he became the Washington Correspondent of THE TIMES and was an enthusiastic supporter of Senator Joe McCarthy’ss red-baiting campaign. He shared the hypocrisy of McCarthy’s red-baiting, queer-bashing ally, Roy Cohn, another practising homosexual. But he had better luck than Cohn, who died from AIDS.
The obituary in THE TIMES shows that “Worsthorne” was one of a large, louche and celebrated network of London-based columnists and editors .besides whom the Broadway bums and mobsters of Damon Runyan’s Guys ‘n’ Dolls, were boy scouts.