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Britain’s Former Defense Chief Named in Affair with Woman and Her Daughters

June 1, 1994

LONDON (AP) _ The philanderings of a controversial former defense minister put him at the center of a sex scandal Tuesday involving the wife of a former judge and her two daughters.

Alan Clark, 66, defense chief in the government of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, mentioned Valerie Harkess and her two daughters, Josephine, 34, and Alison, 36, in his best-selling diaries, published last year. ″The coven,″ he called them.

Mrs. Harkess, 57, and daughter Josephine Van Der Spuy told The News of The World newspaper last weekend they had affairs with Clark - and so did Alison.

They gave details after arriving in London Tuesday from their home in Cape Town, South Africa. They retained an agent and are selling interviews to news media.

″The whole world is interested in it, and we’ve been offered a lot of money for it,″ Mrs. Van Der Spuy told a news conference.

Alison did not accompany them to London. British news reports said she is married to Sergei Kausov, former husband of the late shipping heiress Christina Onassis.

Clark, who decided not to stand for re-election to Parliament in 1992, is a millionaire and the son of the late Lord Kenneth Clark, an eminent art historian who made the internationally acclaimed TV series ″Civilization.″

Clark emerged from his home - the 12th-century Saltwood Castle in southern England, on Tuesday and told reporters, ″I totally regret what happened and the pain it has caused people, but I do not regret anything in the book.

″I deserve to be horsewhipped. It all happened a very long time go, and I am trying to keep a low profile.

″I probably have a different sense of morality to most people.″

Mrs. Harkess’ husband, James, a former deputy circuit judge, called Clark ″lecherous and arrogant and deceitful.″

The Harkesses said they were coming forward with their story now because Clark’s diaries were to be published soon in South Africa.

Harkess said his wife admitted the affair. ″It was a bombshell. I have to admit I felt a little humiliated and jealous,″ he told Sky News.

Mrs. Harkess said she was shocked to discover Clark had affairs with her two daughters - but she continued her own affair with him.

She tried not to make her daughters feel guilty, or give them the impression she was jealous, she said, as ″that would have damaged them far more than I already had done.″

Mrs. Van Der Spuy said she slept with Clark twice in 1983, when she was 23.

″He has betrayed me personally, greatly,″ she said.

Clark’s diaries are packed with allusions to his philanderings, unflattering descriptions of political colleagues, and betrayals. Elected to Parliament in 1974, he was a minister from 1983 to 1992.

Two years ago, Clark blew the whistle on British arms sales to Iraq by announcing during the trial of three British executives that he had encouraged the sales, which continued until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Clark’s wife, Jane, was 16 when they married 36 years ago.

She said in a BBC documentary: ″He’s impossible. He’s absolutely dreadful and half the time you want to throttle him. ... But I still love him.″

Update hourly