Lord McAlpine's sexy little secret; She's 27 years his junior, and younger than two of his daughters. So how has the former Treasurer managed to marry his third heiress - and why did they have to hide their love from the world?
KATHRYN KNIGHT 2002
ON the steps of a Paris town hall, a besotted groom kisses his beautiful bride, effortlessly chic in vintage Chanel.
Apart from the obvious age gap, the couple look like any infatuated newlyweds.
But this is hardly your average marriage ceremony. The bridegroom is former Tory grandee Lord McAlpine and the 32-year-old bride Athena Malpas is his third wife.
Around them, scattering confetti over the steps, are McAlpine's three daughters from his first two marriages. Two of them are older than Athena, but mingle happily with her Greek parents and relatives.
It was, to say the least, an unconventional gathering for a man who, as the Conservative Party's most prolific fundraiser, was the protege of Margaret Thatcher and at the heart of the British Establishment.
And it marks the beginning of another extraordinary - and hitherto well-concealed - chapter in the colourful life of the 59-year-old heir to the McAlpine construction empire.
'There is only one word to describe the way I feel about Athena, and that's love,' says Lord McAlpine - Alistair to his friends. 'It's unconventional but very wonderful, and I strongly recommend it.'
Athena, born in Dublin to a powerful Greek shipping family, is an attractive, educated woman, and it is clear that Lord McAlpine is besotted by her, as, it seems, she is by him. Over lunch in a Paris restaurant, two days after their wedding, they nod affectionately and interrupt each other's stories.
They first met in 1996, when Athena was running the Under-35 wing of James Goldsmith's Referendum Party and McAlpine
So why is it that an ugly old paedophile like McAlpine can wallow in rich women? Is it because he knows where the bodies are buried. Or could he be the grand Warlock of a coven of Satanists? Or is he just a charming old gentleman who has been wrongly accused and had to make over £300,000 in damages for his besmirched reputation. Rich already the £300,000 which would have changed the lives of billions will probably just buy his young wife more champagne.