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No. 2 Bank of England Official Quits Over Love Affair

DIRK BEVERIDGEMarch 21, 1995

LONDON (AP) _ Giving the royals a temporary breather, Britain’s rapacious tabloids swooped down upon the staid old Bank of England, where the No. 2 man resigned Tuesday over an affair that reportedly included trysts in the bank.

For two days, Rupert Pennant-Rea had tried to hang on to his job as deputy governor of England’s central bank after The Sunday Mirror disclosed his affair with an American journalist, Mary Ellen Synon.

But the report ignited a feeding frenzy among the tabloids, which reveled over tales of heated sex on the floor of the bank chief’s private dressing room, and checks signed ``Pay To: M.E. Lots of Love.″

``If he had even been vaguely nice about this, I would probably have cooled off in 20 minutes. But the fact that he was kind of deadly and vicious about it just made me very angry,″ Ms. Synon said of the breakup, speaking Tuesday on Irish radio RTE.

``And nothing could be angrier than an Irish-American financial journalist who has been badly treated by the deputy governor,″ she added.

Britain’s top Treasury official, Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, said he accepted the resignation with regret. The thrice-married Pennant-Rea, 47, joined the bank in July 1993 after serving as editor of The Economist, where Ms. Synon formerly worked.

The bank said Pennant-Rea had not been asked to leave. There was no suggestion of financial improprieties, and no replacement was immediately chosen.

His third wife, Helen, whom he married in 1986, said Ms. Synon had threatened to publicize the affair but she and her husband had worked to preserve their marriage.

``Rupert has paid a very high price for taking the right decision,″ Mrs. Pennant-Rea told reporters outside the couple’s London home.

The former bank official, meanwhile, warned fewer and fewer top people would want to serve in public office.

``Many good people in the commercial world are put off by the tabloid intrusion into the private lives of those in public positions,″ Pennant-Rea wrote. ``After the events of the past few days, this reluctance to move will increase.″

Sensational coverage of prominent Britons’ sex lives has resulted in many resignations, stirring debate about whether Britain’s fiesty press should be muzzled.

Among recent casualties:

_Robert Hughes, junior minister at the Office of Public Service and Science, quit March 6 after admitting he had cheated on his wife.

_Timothy Yeo and Lord Caithness both resigned from ministerial posts last year after reports of adultery.

_Conservative lawmaker Hartley Booth resigned from the Health Ministry after a young woman shared his amorous poetry with a newspaper.

_David Mellor resigned from the Cabinet in 1992 following the exposure of his affair with an actress.

_Sir Peter Harding, chief of the defense staff, resigned a year ago after a tabloid exposed his affair with the young wife of a retired Conservative lawmaker.

Ironically, Pennant-Rea wrote a novel, ``Gold Foil,″ published in 1979, in which a Bank of England official becomes embroiled in a scandalous affair.

There was once difference, however. In the novel, the official kept his job.

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