Cold case: the 1994 death of British MP Stephen David Wyatt Milligan

Criminal Law News (87):02-36 (2016)
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In the December 2015 Issue of the Police Journal Sam Poyser and Rebecca Milne addressed the subject of miscarriages of justice. Cold case investigations can address some of these wrongs. The salient points for attention are those just before his sudden death: Milligan was appointed Private Secretary to Jonathan Aitken, the then Minister of Arms in the Conservative government in 1994. The known facts are as follows: 1. Stephen David Wyatt Milligan was found deceased on Tuesday 8th February 1994 at his Chiswick, West London house where he lived alone. His body was found by his secretary Vera Taggart who was told by Julie Kirkbride where a spare key to his London house was kept and who decided to go to his house that day because he was not answering his telephone. Police said he had made one last telephone call on Saturday evening at 9.00pm. 2. Stephen David Wyatt Milligan had been the elected Member of Parliament (‘MP’) for Eastleigh in Hampshire since 1992. 3. The important topics this MP was addressing in 1994 at the time of his death included: (i) rail privatization plans and the impact through job losses on communities, especially his own constituency of Eastleigh; (ii) arms dealings with Saudi Arabia, especially with his previous intelligence gathered as an economics journalist for esteemed publications; (iii) the UK military industry; (iv) homosexuality among senior government Ministers, as revealed by British footballer Fasanu; (v) personal relationship and planned marriage to his fiancée (Julie Kirkbride) who at the time was a political journalist. 4. Stephen Milligan was also appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jonathan Aitken, Arms Minister and this position must have required that he came ‘up to speed’ on international arms trade and indeed its relation to bribery and corruption across jurisdictions. Milligan’s experience and knowledge as a former high-level political and economics journalist must have been of huge benefit to government minister Jonathan Aitken who was later imprisoned for perjury. 5. Regarding Stephen Milligan’s death in 1994, the Guardian newspaper in their immediate obituary said that ‘The death of one of the government's most outspoken and loyal supporters will pose a stiff electoral test for the Tories to surmount. He was on the left of the Tory party - he had even had a brief flirtation with the SDP when it was formed - and was a noted Euro-enthusiast… the death of one of the government's most outspoken and loyal supporters will pose a stiff electoral test for the Tories to surmount. Regarding Stephen Milligan’s sudden and unexpected death in 1994, MP David Willetts (Conservative, Havant) said in March 2015, in his address in the House of Commons. ‘…The inevitable ups and downs and triumphs and disasters of politics are among the great features of this place. There are colleagues in all parts of the House who are tolerant and understanding. There are friendships that keep the downs as well as the ups of politics in perspective. Having entered the House in 1992, I think particularly of two good friends, Judith Chaplin and Stephen Milligan, who both died within two years of being elected; that loss stayed with me for a long time...’ 6. On 28 February 2000, in the House of Commons, at Column 106, Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth) said, on the deaths of Michael Colvin and of Stephen Milligan MP: ‘I knew Michael Colvin for nearly 30 years, from when he was first elected to Hampshire county council. During my time as leader of that council, he and the late former Member of Parliament for Eastleigh, Stephen Milligan, were usually the only Members of Parliament who readily supported the council when necessary. Michael Colvin supported many ventures in the county of Hampshire. He will be missed here, in his constituency, and in Europe, and I stress that Hampshire has lost a staunch supporter. I am sure that the county will at some stage want to record its regret at his death and its deepest appreciation of the part that he played in its life....’ Mike Hancock had, like Stephen Milligan, served on the Select Committee on Defence. It is interesting that he mentioned Stephen Milligan’s support as MP for Eastleigh when Milligan had only been so appointed a couple of years before his sudden death, as compared to 30 years of support from Mike Colvin. 7. Mr Andrew Robathan (for Blaby) said in the House of Commons Hansard Debates on 27 January1997, (Column 62) (on the registering of sex offenders): ‘I remember the death of my honourable friend Stephen Milligan, who represented Eastleigh. The press reports of the time stated that each Metropolitan police station had a police officer in the pay of newspapers. I do not know whether that is true, but I am aware that the police are not renowned for being entirely secure with their information…’ This statement is mischievous and it has been demonstrated time and time again, as being untrue, especially during the recent press inquiry leading to the four-volume Leveson Report, published in November 2012, into phone hacking and the ethics and culture of the UK media, pursuant to section 26 of the Inquiries Act 2005, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 29 November 2012, ISBN: 9780102981063, by the Stationery Office Limited on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. In Volume 4 of the 2012 Leveson Report, chapter 4 concluded on the Press Complaints Commission (‘PCC’) and its effectiveness and revealed that the PCC does not initiate its own investigations other than those ‘needed to head off criticism of the press or self-regulation- or to accept complaints from third parties across the board and on a transparent basis… and the report states that ‘the resources of the police are limited’ in terms of being able to fully inspect the Press and media reports.

Author's Profile

Sally Serena Ramage
University of Wolverhampton (PhD)


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