From Sally Muggeridge
Sir, - Much has appeared in the media this last weekend about my
uncle Malcolm Muggeridge, castigated as a "serially incontinent
groper" while he was at the BBC.
For those who have read extensively words written either by
Muggeridge or about him, this so-called revelation in the new book
Pinkoes and Traitors should come as no surprise
whatsoever. While the media may have popularly labelled him a saint
in his later life, this was always a name given to him in irony.
The biographies written after his death both make clear that he had
been anything but a saint in his first 60 years.
What I would question is the timing given to his clearly
inappropriate behaviour. In 1969, his book Jesus
Rediscovered was published, and, in 1975, Jesus: The man
who lives. In the 1970s, he had already taken a new
The Malcolm Muggeridge Society, of which I am International
President, republishes several of Muggeridge's bestselling
religious books. The Society has never sought to paint Muggeridge
as other than a man with remarkable gifts and spiritual insights
but also some serious character flaws, carried through the earlier
part of his life before finding his faith. Indeed, it was rightly
said by Christopher Hitchens that my uncle Malcolm gave up the sins
of the flesh only when they were at the point of giving him up.
Unlike others, Malcolm never sought to hide his many past
philanderings, and freely admitted to having a seemingly insatiable
sexual appetite. Frequent reference is made in his own writing in
genuine remorse for leading such a dissipated life. Indeed, disgust
with himself almost led to his committing suicide during the war.
Who, then, would deny that inappropriate gropings and sexual
advances took place while he was at the BBC, and that, in the words
of Anthony Howard, this was once a man definitely labelled NSIT -
not safe in taxis.
All of us are fallen. But it is the very contradictions so
apparent within the life of Malcolm Mug-geridge which have been the
subject of much media interest and commentary. It is, therefore,
all the more remarkable that this conflicted man, eventually
finding God, was able to effect such a life-changing transition in
his sixties to born-again Christian, adopting a convincing ascetic
lifestyle - not only giving up sex, smoking, and drinking, but also
becoming a vegetarian.
Perhaps the timing of his conversion was particularly fortunate
for me, since he was to have a profound effect on my own life and
spiritual journey. It was as a pretty drama student in my teens
that I came to know my uncle well. I knew him to be a deeply devout
and thoughtful man of faith.
Like many others, I enjoyed long country walks alone with him in
conversation about religious matters in the woods surrounding
Robertsbridge. In my case, sexual impropriety was certainly neither
feared nor encountered.
Member of General Synod
Flat 8, Hayfield House,
London E1 3LQ