Bill Lyons, a married wealthy American businessman, was yesterday named by Lady Colin Campbell as the "headless man" who appeared in a photograph in a compromising position with the 11th Duchess of Argyll.
The picture had apparently been stolen and became public when it was produced in divorce proceedings between the Duke and the Duchess in an episode which rocked high society in 1963. It was the first time a female member of the aristocracy had been exposed on camera in such a way and the public were intrigued by who her lover was.
The man was pictured without any clothing and his head was missing from the frame.
Lady Campbell, the daughter-in-law of the 11th Duchess of Argyll, said the man's identity had been a long-held family secret. She said the Duchess, whose maiden name was Margaret Whigham, had enjoyed a long and loving relationship with sales director Mr Lyons, who was unable to divorce his wife over fears she would commit suicide if he did.
Lady Campbell said she decided to name him as a way of restoring the reputation of the Duchess, who died in 1993, aged 80.
"Every time Bill told her he was going to leave her for Margaret, she would threaten to commit suicide. So for six years he remained married while he and Margaret were accepted 'everywhere' as a couple.
"They travelled together. They attended parties and premieres and the ballet and theatre together. 'We were as good as married,' Margaret said," Lady Campbell wrote.
"Margaret might have been coquettish, but she was most certainly no cocotte. And the only way to do her justice is to identify the 'headless man'.
"Then and only then, will everyone be able to appreciate that what she was doing in those photographs was not so very terrible. She was simply a woman in love, who was unfortunate enough to have a memento of something happy stolen."
The 11th Duke of Argyll died in 1973, aged 69.