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Empire strikes back at ‘racist’ aristocrat

London, Aug. 12: Sikh taxi driver Davinder Singh, who complained to police after allegedly suffering a torrent of racial abuse from an aristocratic customer — the Marquess of Blandford — would have understood all, forgiven all and perhaps even sympathised with his tormentor if only he had been familiar with Satyajit Ray’s depiction of the crumbling of a once great zamindari family in Jalshaghar.

Although he belongs to one of the noblest families in the land, the 51-year-old Marquess of Blandford could have inspired an evocative film on the last days of an old aristocratic English line had a person such as Ray existed in Britain.

To the tabloids, Charles James Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, born November 24, 1955, and heir, as his eldest son, to John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, has long been a ridiculous figure.

Marquess he might be and a distant relative of Sir Winston Churchill, but “Jamie Blandford” is now considered the upper class equivalent of Jade Goody, the reality television character with whom Shilpa Shetty clashed on Celebrity Big Brother. However, Jamie appears to have few of Jade’s redeeming qualities.

All of Britain, with the exception of Davinder obviously, also knows that Jamie’s main claim to fame is that he is the UK’s best-known upper class drug addict.

In fact, Jamie’s father is so fed up with his son that he has announced that his inheritance will pass not to son but his son’s son, George Spencer-Churchill.

The boy was born in 1992 to Jamie and his first wife, Rebecca Mary Few Brown, (Rebecca, Marchioness of Blandford), whom he married in 1990 and divorced in 1998. George, incidentally, is called the Earl of Sunderland.

But there is nothing that the 11th Duke can do to stop Jamie becoming the 12th Duke of Marlborough when he dies.

To complicate matters and make all this sound though it was all taken from the pages of a P.G. Wodehouse novel, Jamie’s second marriage to one Edla Griffiths (Marchioness of Blandford), took place on March 1, 2002, at Woodstock Register Office. Although Jamie and his second wife have been living apart since 2004, their daughter, Araminta Clementine Megan Spencer-Churchill (Lady Araminta Spencer-Churchill) was born on April 8 this year.

The latest drama in the life of Jamie took place when one morning recently he summoned a cab from his ancestral home in the Blenheim Palace estate, Oxfordshire, to go to Coventry Crown Court where the heir to the Dukedom of Marlborough was facing a charge of dangerous driving and cutting up, of all people, a policeman on the M42.

Davinder also did not know that on the previous Monday, Jamie had appeared at Oxford Crown Court, which found the podgy peer guilty of “road rage” — he had turned on a motorist, screaming abuses and kicking his door in an unprovoked attack.

Jamie, currently being treated for drug abuse at The Priory clinic, had looked weary as details of the incident were read out. He admitted criminal damage and dangerous and careless driving on two separate occasions.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Davinder said his problems began when he rang to check the exact location of Jamie’s rural residence. When he arrived, Davinder claimed he was met with a torrent of abuse. Blandford never made it to court that day.

The shocked driver contacted the police and Jamie was arrested and questioned on suspicion of racially-aggravated behaviour the following day.

“I can put up with rudeness but not racism,” said Davinder. “I was having trouble finding his house so I called him and he said, ‘Why are you f***ing ringing me' You are the taxi driver you should know where you are f***ing going.’ ”

The driver was called a “Hindu” or “Hindi”.

Davinder continued: “He said I should remember I was a guest in this country and I replied that I was British. He looked me up and down and said, ‘You' British'’ I was just completely shocked.”

Given the history of the English upper classes, Jamie’s confusion over Davinder even in today’s multicultural Britain is entirely understandable.

In the good old days, turbaned Indians were loyal orderlies who pulled off sahib’s boots after a hard day’s hunting on the North-West frontier, readied the bath, brought a chota peg and perhaps procured a local boy for him.

When he was confronted by an impertinent fellow claiming to be British, the Marquess probably felt he could murder an Indian — and he wasn’t thinking of ordering a takeaway curry.

Davinder, 45, a father of four, who has been a taxi driver for almost 25 years, was so angry he decided to forego his £120 fare and drove off. “He told me I would never work for the company again. When I saw the Marquess of Blandford on the order, I was thinking he would be a polite gentleman but he is just a racist.”

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed that following Davinder’s complaint, “a man was arrested for racially aggravated public order and bailed pending further investigations”.

Described by social commentators as “Britain’s premier aristocratic rogue”, Jamie had served a 30-day jail sentence in 1995 for forging prescriptions to feed his drug habit.

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