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Michael HeseltineMichael Heseltine also claims to have shot dead 350 grey squirrels in six months. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

The former deputy prime minister seemingly confessed to strangling Kim, an alsatian, in an interview with Tatler magazine.

“I went to stroke him and he started biting me, ” he said. “If you have a dog that turns, you just cannot risk it. So I took Kim’s collar – a short of choker chain – and pulled it tight. Suddenly he went limp.

“I was devoted to Kim, but he’d obviously had some sort of mental breakdown.”

The 83-year-old told the story about Kim when he was asked about rumours, dating back to the 1990s, that he was involved in the death of a dog.

But after his comments were widely reported as him having killed Kim, he told Press Association it was an anecdote that had been misinterpreted. “I didn’t strangle the dog, ” he said. “They have misunderstood. The dog was perfectly all right after this incident.”

The Tory peer said he took the dog to the vet the next day and was told he “had no choice but to have the dog put down” because it was dangerous.

Ann and Michael Heseltine pictured in their garden in 2013 with their dogs. Photograph: Tom Pilston for the Guardian

Tatler later released a statement, saying: “Tatler thanks Lord Heseltine for his clarification about his mother’s dog. Lord Heseltine has subsequently explained that after going limp Kim regained consciousness. After much consideration Lord Heseltine and his wife decided to take Kim to the vet the following day to be put down. We are updating the piece on Tatler.co.uk accordingly.”

Heseltine was nicknamed Tarzan after he swung the mace in parliament in 1976, but the Kim revelations suggested he may not be as in tune with the feelings of animals as the lord of the jungle.

In his recent book, Thenford, written with his wife Ann, Heseltine claimed to have shot dead 350 grey squirrels in six months.

They wrote: “These foreign intruders may have a Walt Disney appeal in London parks, but to us they are Public Enemy Number One ... and are shot without hesitation.”

“Don’t you remember?” she said, addressing Heseltine. “You were coming back from the House of Commons, and a man approached you. He was drunk or druggy or something. And you just went voomph … And he fell over! And nobody was more surprised than you.”



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