Lord Bethell


The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

AN OUT­STAND­ING friend of the Jewish peo­ple, Ni­cholas Bethell was a pas­sion­ate hu­man-rights cam­paigner, writes Peter Moss.

A tal­ented his­to­rian and lin­guist, he cam­paigned on be­half of Alexan­der Solzhen­it­syn, An­drei Sakharov and Ana­toly (Natan) Sha­ran­sky.

He was largely in­stru­men­tal in the re­lease of Sakharov from in­ter­nal ex­ile in 1986, af­ter in­sti­tut­ing the Sakharov Prize in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment the pre­vi­ous year.

As MEP for North West Lon­don from 1975-94, he helped steer the half-dozen or so test cases we co-pre­sented through the labyrinthine Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. It was due largely to his tenac­ity and charisma that ev­ery Soviet-Jewish re­fusenik fam­ily, on whose be­half I en­listed his help, reached Is­rael within months.

Har­row and Cam­bridge ed­u­cated, Ni­cholas Bethell suc­ceeded his cousin as 4th baron in 1967. A whip briefly in the Heath gov­ern­ment, he stood down in 1971 to bring a suc­cess­ful li­bel suit against Private Eye mag­a­zine.

He wrote The Pales­tine Tri­an­gle: The Strug­gle Be­tween the Bri­tish, the Jews and the Arabs 1935-48 and trans­lated Solzhen­it­syn’s sear­ing rev­e­la­tions of life un­der the Soviet regime.

In his early ca­reer he wrote for The Times Lit­er­ary Sup­ple­ment and was a BBC script ed­i­tor, spe­cial­is­ing in East Euro­pean drama. He con­tin­ued his writ­ing and hu­man­i­tar­ian work, de­spite Parkin­son’s dis­ease in 1995, un­til the end.

He is sur­vived by his sec­ond wife and their son, and the two sons of his first mar­riage, which ended in di­vorce.

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