BORN LIVERPOOL, AUGUST 29, 1954. DIED LONDON, AUGUST 24, 2009, AGED 54.
DRUGS REFORM campaigner Michael (Mike) Goodman fought for drugs education and decriminalisation as director for a decade from 1991 of the charity Release.
He set up international conferences and was instrumental in launching joint projects and initiatives with newspapers and media stars to counteract the nefarious power of the drugs trade.
His father, Barnet Goodman, a Liverpool shopkeeper, died when he was young and his mother, Hilda, remarried. As a child he suffered from asthma and was sent for a spell to Delamere Forest, the Jewish recuperation school. He also suffered from Crohn’s disease.
From Liverpool’s King David High School, he read law at Brunel University, Middlesex. He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1981 but his real enthusiasm was for politics.
In 1986 he was elected a Labour councillor in the west London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and was soon made chairman of the planning committee. He became leader in 1988.
He resigned in 1994 in the scandal of local authority interest-rate swaps, when councils were discovered betting against the banks on the profitablility of fixed versus variable interest rates. Litigation followed and the House of Lords ruled this was no business for councils to be in.
Hammersmith was a leading player in the controversy. Although Mike Goodman had no knowledge of the questionable transactions, his integrity demanded that he took responsibility. He stepped down as leader, cutting short a rising career in politics.
He concentrated his formidable skills of focus and communication on his campaigning charity, becoming the authoritative voice in media discussion on drug reform.
Believing that drugs misuse was best combatted through openness in information and education, he involved professionals from housing and youth fields, as well as a wide range of cultural and academic figures.
Release’s helpline was widely used, with over 20,000 calls in 2001.
Diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s, Mike Goodman was cared for at Nightingale (formerly Nightingale House). To mark his death, flags on Hammersmith and Fulham public buildings flew at half-mast.
He is survived by his mother, two sisters, his partner and their three sons.
Drugs law reform campaigner