Behind the famous bow-tied public figure with his unmistakeable deep voice and a fund of good stories was a drunk, a liar, a reckless gambler and a bisexual.

He had a long affair with Lady Dorothy, the heavily-set wife of Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan. 'She had thighs like hams and hands like a stevedore.

At a time when such activity was a criminal offence, they knew all the secrets of his lordship's sordid double-life.

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When he reported back that he had just hooked Boothby, Ron ordered him to get to know him better. So it was that the politician and the gangster became friends.

The roguish Boothby even dared to take Ron to dinner at the House of Lords and afterwards on to that pillar of the establishment, White's club in St James's, for drinks. 'I've always wanted to try one of those prawn cocktails,' replied Ron.

He also believed that the upper classes always saved their own, which was why it was wise to be in with them.

Who knew when help from such a quarter might be useful?

The humiliation still rankled and now, madder than ever on a cocktail of alcohol and anti-psychotic tranquillisers, he would have his revenge.

The Blind Beggar was all but empty when Ron arrived, preceded by a henchman firing warning shots into the ceiling.

'Well, look who's 'ere,' Cornell just had time to sneer before Ron lifted a Luger pistol and, at point-blank range, put a bullet into his forehead.

Surprisingly, given that Ron and his brother Reg had been inflicting every form of grievous bodily harm on their enemies (and even a few of their friends) for a dozen years or more, the killing of Cornell in March 1966 was the first time either of them had actually murdered someone.

She reminded me of a caddy I once seduced on the golf course at St Andrews,' he once said by way of explanation.