Charm­ing, hum­ble man who used his skills to ben­e­fit Kent

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TRIBUTES have been paid to Lord Thom­son of Moni­fi­eth, who lived in Char­ing.

Lord Thom­son of Moni­fi­eth passed away on Oc­to­ber 3 at the age of 87 at Lon­don’s St Thomas’ Hospi­tal, af­ter suf­fer­ing a vi­ral in­fec­tion. His life was spent in busi­ness and pub­lic ser­vice.

A Labour MP for Dundee East for 20 years, in his lat­ter years, Lord Thom­son de­vel­oped strong links with Kent.

He served on the board of trustees at Leeds Cas­tle for 23 years from 1978 to 2001 and acted as its chair­man for the last seven. He saw the cas­tle through its tran­si­tion from a pri­vate home to a vis­i­tor at­trac­tion.

He was also a key fig­ure in the Keep Kent Group set up in 1990 to fight for the sur­vival of Kent as a county when at the time the Com­mis­sion on Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment was fo­cus­ing on the divi­sion of the county into uni­tary au­thor­i­ties.

A col­league in that group, Dou­glas Horner, said: “Ge­orge was a most charm­ing and hum­ble man, us­ing his sound judge­ment, wide ex­pe­ri­ence and po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions to ben­e­fit Kent.”

Leeds Cas­tle chief ex­ec­u­tive Vic­to­ria Wal­lace said: “He is re­mem­bered with great fond­ness by staff. Lord Thom­son was par­tic­u­larly proud of the Lady Bail­lie gar­den which was de­vel­oped dur­ing his time as chair­man.”

Paul Sabin, for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of Kent County Coun­cil, said: “Ge­orge made Leeds Cas­tle not just ‘in Kent’ but ‘of Kent and its peo­ple’. He was in all senses of the word a great man and will be much missed by all who had the priv­i­lege to know him.”

Born in 1921, Ge­orge Thom­son be­gan his work­ing life as a trainee with DC Thomp­son in Dundee, where he edited the Dandy comic. Dur­ing the war he served in the RAF, and af­ter­wards joined the Labour Party.

He rose to hold sev­eral Cab­i­net posts un­der Harold Wil­son and was one of Bri­tain’s first com­mis­sion­ers to the EU.

How­ever, in 1989 he fell out with Labour and joined the So­cial Democrats and later the Lib­eral Democrats. He was var­i­ously a di­rec­tor at ICI, the Royal Bank of Scot­land and the Wool­wich Build­ing So­ci­ety, and was also the First Crown Es­tates Com­mis­sioner and Chan­cel­lor of He­riot-Watt Uni­ver­sity.

He was a con­tro­ver­sial chair­man of the In­de­pen­dent Broad­cast­ing Au­thor­ity and a staunch de­fender of News At Ten. He also served as chair­man of the Po­lit­i­cal Hon­ours Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee, on the Nolan Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing sleaze, and also on the Suzy Lam­plugh Trust. He was made a life peer in 1977. He mar­ried Grace Jenk­ins in 1948. Lady Thom­son and their two daugh­ters Caro­line and Alisa sur­vive him.

Lord Thom­son of Moni­fi­eth, a res­i­dent of Char­ing, a Cab­i­net mem­ber un­der Harold Wil­son and sup­porter of Leeds Cas­tle

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