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For just over a decade, from 1963 to the mid 1970s, Arnold Goodman was the most powerful non-elected figure in Britain. His power was based on access to the top political and social figures in the age of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.
He first made an impact defending Nye Bevan, Richard Crossman and Morgan Philips in the famous Spectator libel case, when the magazine accused the three men of drunkenness at a Socialist conference in Venice. Harold Wilson made him his lawyer when he won the 1964 election and for the next six years Goodman had the PM's ear.
Goodman was a central figure of the age, feared by a generation of journalists. He was skilled at extracting the most fulsome apologies in libel cases and even more skilled in stopping unwelcome stories before they appeared - Robert Boothby and Jeremy Thorpe being just two of his clients.;
He also chaired the Arts Council, brokered for the Observer and performed several other notable services. I am a taxi for hire,he once famously observed. Brivati's biography reveals he was often very much more than that, and in revealing Goodman's secret life he unveils the face of power in late 20th century Britain.