Charming, humble man who used his skills to benefit Kent
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