Gagging order on Keays child revealed


THE CONSERVATIVE Party faced further embarrassment over the Sara Keays scandal yesterday after it was revealed that their former chairman, Lord Parkinson has obtained an official gagging order preventing any publicity over the plight of his handicapped daughter, writes Rachel Borrill in, London.

Ms Keays, who had a 12 year relationship with Lord Parkinson while she was his secretary, hopes that publicity over their daughter's educational problems might force her local authority to fund her special needs.

However, a High Court secrecy order, obtained by Lord Parkinson in 1993, has prevented the British media and Ms Kenys from publicising any aspect of 12 year old Flora's life. But this weekend a Labour MP, Mr Brian Sedgemore, made the matter public by tabling a House of Commons motion, describing the gagging order as a "gross denial of human rights" and saying Ms Keays has "every right now to fight for proper educational provision for her daughter, using publicity to further her cause.

Mr Parkinson was forced to resign his post as Trade and Industry Secretary over the scandal in 1983.

Initially Flora, who has never met her father, was a healthy baby. But by the age of five, she had developed a brain tumor and suffered from frequent epileptic fits. An operation, to remove the tumor left her handicapped.

Last year the Appeal court agreed that Flora's needs were difficult to meet and praised Ms Keays for her determination to ensure her local authority recognise the problems, but it refused to lift the gagging order, which could remain until Flora becomes an adult.