Who was Labour MP John Stonehouse – and why did he fake his own death?

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John Stonehouse is the subject of the Channel 4 documentary The Spy Who Died Twice

A new Channel 4 documentary, The Spy Who Died Twice, takes a new look at the life of British MP and suspected spy John Stonehouse.

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Stonehouse is best known for faking his own death in the 1970s – but what happened to him after that event, did he go to prison and was he a Soviet spy?

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Here’s everything you need to know:

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John Stonehouse faked his own death in the 1970s

Who was John Stonehouse?

Stonehouse was born in Southampton in 1925 and joined the Labor Party at the age of 16.

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In a by-election in 1957 he became Labor Cooperative MP for Wednesbury in Staffordshire.

Stonehouse had a successful career in politics, speaking out against the white minority government in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1950s and rising in the ranks of the British Colonial Office.

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Stonehouse married Barbara Joan Smith in 1948, with whom he had two daughters and a son. The couple divorced in 1978.

In 1969, Stonehouse first faced allegations that he was a spy for Czechoslovakia, a satellite state of the Soviet Union, although he defended himself against the allegation.

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In 2010 it was revealed that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had agreed to cover up the knowledge that Stonehouse was a spy because there was insufficient evidence to bring him to justice.

Why did John Stonehouse fake his own death?

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In 1974, Stonehouse left a pile of clothes on a Miami beach to trick people into thinking he drowned.

Stonehouse then traveled to Australia to start a new life under the name Clive Midoon with his lover and former secretary Sheila Buckley, whom he married in 1978.

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When Stonehouse began transferring large sums of money between bank accounts using false identities, he caught the attention of authorities.

Stonehouse was eventually arrested in Melbourne and deported back to Britain, where he remained a Labor MP because the party did not expel him due to its narrow majority in the House of Commons.

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John Stonehouse with his Czech handler Robert Husak

He was eventually charged with 21 counts of fraud, theft, forgery, conspiracy to commit fraud, causing a false police investigation, and wasting police time, and was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1976 for fraud.

Stonehouse was released from prison in early 1979 after suffering three heart attacks in prison.

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After his release, Stonehouse joined the Social Democratic Party, wrote three books and made several appearances on radio and television.

In 1988, Stonehouse suffered a massive heart attack at his Totton home and died in hospital.

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What is The Spy Who Died Twice about?

The Channel 4 documentary examines claims that Stonehouse was a spy for the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

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It will also cover his decision to fake his own death and subsequent arrest.

Where can I watch The Spy Who Died Twice on TV?

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The Spy Who Died Twice airs May 9th at 9pm on Channel 4.

It will be available on All 4 shortly after it first airs.

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