17. Marguerite Fahmy - Self-confessed Killer

Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley

01-05-2023 • 28 mins

Lucy Worsley takes a fresh look at an infamous shooting that took place at London’s Savoy Hotel, amid all the wealth and glamour of the Roaring ‘20s.

On 10th July 1923, at the height of a violent thunderstorm, Marguerite Fahmy shoots her new husband at close range with a pistol – in the corridor, outside their opulent suite. It’s clear she’s killed him, but why?

Lucy is joined by Nneka Akudolu KC, a barrister with 20 years’ experience of exactly this kind of complex case, and Lady Killers’ in-house historian Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University, to get to the bottom of this 100 year old mystery.

Together, they untangle the complexities of Marguerite’s relationship with Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey, a super-rich Egyptian ‘playboy prince’. Ros goes to the scene of the crime to meet Savoy archivist Susan Scott and find out more about this notorious incident in the hotel’s history.

The team discover that, while the coroner’s court returns a straightforward verdict of ‘wilful murder’, when Marguerite’s case comes to trial at the Old Bailey, the story gets a whole lot murkier. She is defended by legal legend Sir Edward Marshall Hall KC and cuts a tragic figure in the dock, glamorous and apparently bereft. She alleges that Ali was violently abusive and there is huge public sympathy for her plight, with her husband cast as a 'bestial' monster.

Lucy, Nneka and Ros examine these claims and counterclaims to unpick the prejudice at work in the courtroom and ask if justice was served in this case.

Would Marguerite’s story play out any differently today?

Producer: Sarah Goodman Readers: Meena Rayann and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball

A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

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