Saturday 10 December 2016

Lord Heseltine denies strangling mother's dog but says he had it put down

Published 01/11/2016 | 10:41

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has denied killing his mother's dog.

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The Tory grandee faced a backlash after telling glossy society magazine Tatler that he had pulled the Alsatian's collar tight and it had gone limp.

But the peer insisted Kim was still alive after the incident and was put down the following day by the vet because of its violent outburst.

Charlotte Edwardes, who carried out the Tatler interview, tweeted a picture of the article and said: "Heseltine tells me about having to strangle dog to death & his wife Anne on living next to a brothel, in @TatlerUK."

But the veteran Tory insisted that the magazine had "misunderstood" and told the Press Association: "I didn't strangle the dog."

In a statement the magazine said: "Tatler thanks Lord Heseltine for his clarification about his mother's dog. Lord Heseltine has subsequently explained that after going limp Kim regained consciousness.

"After much consideration Lord Heseltine and his wife decided to take Kim to the vet the following day to be put down. We are updating the piece on Tatler.co.uk accordingly."

Lord Heseltine had volunteered details of the incident after being told by the journalist of a rumour that he had once killed a dog with his bare hands when it attacked a child.

In the Tatler interview, Lord Heseltine said the pet had "obviously had some sort of mental breakdown".

"I went to stroke him and he started biting me," he said.

"If you have a dog that turns, you just cannot risk it.

"So I took Kim's collar - a short of choker chain - and pulled it tight.

"Suddenly he went limp.

"I was devoted to Kim, but he'd obviously had some sort of mental breakdown."

But the former Cabinet minister said the anecdote had been misinterpreted.

He said: "The dog was perfectly all right after this incident."

The next day the peer, whose wife was pregnant at the time, took the dog to the vet, who told him he "had no choice but to have the dog put down" because it was dangerous.

In the feature, which is illustrated with striking photographs of the grounds of his sprawling Northamptonshire home Thenford, including an image of a nine ton bronze bust of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, the peer is also given a "ticking off" by his wife for his treatment of their current dog.

After trying to "drag their wheezing" 11-year-old black Labrador Alfie to have his picture taken, Lady Heseltine says: "Michael! He doesn't like it."

Elsewhere in the magazine, an article by Sophia Money-Coutts, which declares that hunting is "better than sex" ranks Thenford House number one in its list of best meets.

"It's worth coming for the sausage rolls alone," the magazine quotes one fan declaring.

The RSPCA said it would not investigate the historical incident but said there was "no rule" that dogs should be automatically put down if they bite someone.

The row over the dog comes after Lord Heseltine, nicknamed Tarzan, claimed to have shot dead 350 grey squirrels in six months.

In a book, Thenford, written with his wife Anne about the gardens at their extensive country estate, he said: "These foreign intruders may have a Walt Disney appeal in London parks, but to us they are Public Enemy Number One ... and are shot without hesitation."

Press Association

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