Lord Mayhew of Twysden – obituary 


Lord Mayhew of Twysden, who has died aged 86, was the solicitor basic whose fury on the leaking of his confidential recommendation over the Westland affair pressured the resignation of Leon Brittan as commerce and trade secretary and nearly introduced down Margaret Thatcher; he was later an unexpectedly affected person Northern Eire secretary underneath John Main, laying a lot of the groundwork for the eventual peace.

Paddy Mayhew’s anger stemmed from the leak in January 1986 of his letter to Michael Heseltine disputing the claims behind the latter’s marketing campaign for the ailing helicopter agency to move to European, not American, fingers. Heseltine resigned as defence secretary in mid-Cupboard three days later.

Brittan’s subsequent departure amid the storm over the leak put the prime minister in danger. She owed her survival to luck, mistrust within the occasion of each Heseltine and Brittan, and Neil Kinnock’s failure to dominate the controversy on the resignations which Mrs Thatcher – who didn’t blame Mayhew – feared would pressure her to go.

Tall and booming, Mayhew may solely have been a barrister. Fiercely conservative the place the Bar was involved, he loved help on the Tory Proper regardless of being pro-European. They pressed for years for him to take cost in Ulster, out of a conviction – not borne out in apply – that he would take the sword to the IRA.

As secret contacts and a public peace initiative launched by his predecessor Peter Brooke began to bear fruit, Mayhew grew to become the primary secretary of state to fulfill the Sinn Fein president and former IRA commander Gerry Adams. The initiative foundered on the IRA’s refusal to disarm, however the contacts established with Sinn Fein (and Dublin) paved the best way for the Good Friday Settlement months after Mayhew’s retirement on the 1997 election.

Mayhew, who got here from Irish Protestant inventory, actively wished the job. His appointment triggered consternation in Dublin, however he gained the Republic’s confidence – although relations frayed after John Bruton changed Albert Reynolds as Taoiseach. One Irish official noticed: “He could also be a Southern Irish Unionist – however firstly, he’s a Cork man.”

Stormont appeared an odd place to ship a person famend for bluntness. However Mayhew managed to placate Ulster’s tribes as he edged towards dialogue with Sinn Fein, with Republicans and Loyalists equally able to press their level with atrocities and Unionists continuously threatening to stroll out.

His revelation of the key contacts and his settlement to a “framework doc” with Dublin introduced cries of betrayal. However Mayhew – the primary secretary of state to handle an Orange Lodge – was honest in reassuring Unionists he wouldn’t make a one-sided settlement.

Some colleagues feared one concession too many to Sinn Fein, and he crossed swords with the house secretary Michael Howard. But it was Mayhew who, after the IRA referred to as a supposedly everlasting ceasefire in 1994, insisted talks couldn’t start and not using a bodily handover of weapons. Mayhew let his composure slip simply as soon as. Advised on arriving on the opera {that a} grenade assault in Belfast had injured 30 folks, he retorted: “Nicely, no person is lifeless. On the finish of this opera, everyone is lifeless.”

Mayhew grew to become the primary Secretary of State to fulfill the Sinn Fein president and former IRA commander Gerry Adams Credit score: Ian Nicholson

Over 9 years as a regulation officer, Mayhew got here to resent what he noticed as his exclusion from mainstream politics. But few regulation officers have confronted extra politically delicate selections. There have been disputes with the Republic over extradition, and frequent rows over whether or not and the way these accountable for safety leaks needs to be pursued. However there was no extra controversial matter than Westland.

Heseltine had written to the European consortium he hoped would purchase the corporate in phrases Mayhew – deputising for the attorney-general, Sir Michael Havers, who was unwell – believed severely deceptive. He warned Heseltine of “materials inaccuracies” in claiming that if America’s Sikorsky acquired Westland, it will be barred from European defence contracts.

When his letter was leaked, Mayhew attacked the “flagrant violation” of his confidential recommendation, threatened to ship the police into 10 Downing Avenue and instructed Mrs Thatcher he would give up until the miscreant have been punished.

She instructed the Commons the letter had been issued on Brittan’s authority by his head of knowledge, Colette Bowe – Bernard Ingham, her personal press secretary, having refused to launch it himself. The prime minister insisted that she had not been consulted, and a choose committee – although not the Labour gadfly Tam Dalyell – accepted this.

Patrick Barnabas Burke Mayhew was born on September 11 1929. His father was an oil govt with a distinguished struggle document and his nice uncle Henry Mayhew, creator of London Labour and the London Poor; his mom’s aspect have been Anglo-Irish from the thirteenth century. He was educated at Tonbridge and Balliol School, Oxford, changing into president of the Union – unopposed – in 1952 and of the college Conservative Affiliation. Beforehand, he served as a subaltern within the 4th/seventh King’s Dragoon Guards.

The younger Mayhew minimize a touch, whether or not looking with the Beaufort or wearing white tie and tails. He was a eager cricketer, and later a passionate yachtsman. Awarded a scholarship by the Center Temple, he was referred to as to the Bar in 1955; he grew to become a Bencher in 1980. He practised on the legal Bar, primarily defending, and took silk in 1972.

He fought Dulwich in 1970 – Labour’s Sam Silkin hanging on by 895 votes – then in February 1974 was elected for Tunbridge Wells, succeeding Richard Hornby. It took Mayhew time to regulate to the Commons, as “each time I spoke I made a Courtroom of Attraction speech, as if I had a nasty scent underneath my nostril.” However in 1976 he was elected to the 1922 Committee govt.

When Mrs Thatcher got here to energy in 1979, she made Mayhew a junior employment minister. For 2 years he labored with James Prior on commerce union reforms. Prior’s “step-by-step” strategy was strongly criticised by the Proper, egged on – to Mayhew’s dismay – by the prime minister.

In January 1981 he was promoted to the Residence Workplace as minister of state – making the younger Main his PPS; Main would suggest him as Northern Eire secretary as early as 1985 (when a whip). He steered by the Commons the Prison Makes an attempt Invoice, which abolished the “sus” regulation, a Prison Justice Invoice ending imprisonment for vagrancy, and the primary Police and Prison Proof Invoice, which fell when an election was referred to as for June 1983.

Re-elected by a landslide, Mrs Thatcher made him solicitor-general, with the then customary knighthood. His affect in authorities grew, not least as a result of Havers’ poor well being usually made him the ultimate arbiter. He backed larger use of suspended sentences to ease jail overcrowding and extra targeted prosecutions for fraud, however opposed makes an attempt to disclaim alleged fraudsters and minor thieves the correct to a jury trial.

When Havers proposed abolishing the no-jury Diplock courts in Ulster, Mayhew threatened to resign. He additionally opposed strikes to include the European Conference on Human Rights into British regulation, saying it will thrust judges into political controversy – as finally occurred.

After the 1987 election he was promoted to attorney-general, Havers briefly changing into Lord Chancellor. Mayhew took exception to a reform Inexperienced Paper from Havers’ successor, Lord Mackay, threatening to resign if rights of viewers within the Excessive Courtroom for solicitors, an finish to the solicitors’ conveyancing monopoly and no-win, no-fee agreements have been applied. He helped kill proposals for barristers and solicitors to type partnerships, and welcomed the ultimate, watered down package deal as capable of “break up the logjam with out risking breaking apart the entire system”.

Counterproductively, the Authorities tried to make use of the courts, beginning in Australia, to cease publication of Spycatcher, the memoirs of the previous MI5 agent Peter Wright. Mayhew stated it was “in search of to uphold the precept that anybody who has held employment within the safety companies owes a life-long responsibility of confidentiality to the Crown.”

He pressured the Cupboard Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong to recant within the witness field a declare that the federal government had conceded that Sir Roger Hollis, a former head of MI5, had spied for Russia; thereafter, the 2 weren’t on talking phrases.

Mayhew was additionally deeply concerned within the substitute of the “catch-all” Part 2 of the Official Secrets and techniques Act, to which Mrs Thatcher agreed as soon as it was clear that no jury would convict with the regulation because it stood.

Mayhew was additionally deeply concerned within the substitute of the “catch-all” Part 2 of the Official Secrets and techniques Act Credit score:  IAN JONES

A lot of his most delicate issues involved Ulster. In 1988 he enraged the Republic by stopping the prosecution of RUC officers who had shot 5 terrorist suspects; Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Commons for calling him an “confederate to homicide”. Mayhew was given an armed guard.

After the Dail handed an Act stipulating that the Irish lawyer basic ought to study the proof in extradition instances, Mayhew continued to ship warrants which didn’t deploy the proof. An additional setback was a decide’s launch of Patrick McVeigh, a terrorist suspect, as a result of he noticed no proof that McVeigh was the person on the warrants. Eire’s Excessive Courtroom overruled him, however too late. Mayhew was incandescent when Fr Patrick Ryan, wished for alleged conspiracy and bombing, slipped away to Belgium whereas the Irish authorities have been analyzing Scotland Yard warrants.

In 1990 he halted the Customs and Excise’s prosecution of businessmen for breaching sanctions by supplying Saddam Hussein with parts for a “supergun”. He acted after proof from the previous commerce minister Alan Clark that ministers had connived with the export, however however enraged officers who had introduced the fees.

Three years later, he denied to the Scott inquiry having tried to cease his former Commons colleague Hal Miller telling the court docket Whitehall had recognized about plans for a “supergun” two years earlier than it seized the elements.

Mayhew served within the “Conflict Cupboard” in 1991 as Main despatched forces to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. He suggested on Britain’s obligations underneath worldwide regulation, and Iraq’s accountability for captive aircrew underneath the Geneva Conference, rebuking Edward Heath for claiming Britain’s request for different nations to defray the price had turned its forces into “mercenaries”.

That October, he accepted the resignation of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Allan Inexperienced, stopped by police at King’s Cross for kerb-crawling. He appointed Barbara Mills, head of the Critical Fraud Workplace, to succeed him. Later, he acquiesced within the Chancellor, Norman Lamont, instructing solicitors on the taxpayer’s expense to take away an undesirable intercourse therapist from his basement.

After the 1992 election, Main despatched Mayhew to Stormont. He arrived with a no-nonsense status, however from the outset was conciliatory. All-party talks (minus Sinn Fein) came about in Dublin that September, and subsequently at Stormont, for the primary time because the Nineteen Twenties involving the Republic. Mayhew despatched a message to violent Loyalists by banning the Ulster Defence Affiliation.

One totemic concern was Unionists’ insistence – shared by Mayhew – that Dublin abandon its declare to the Six Counties. By 1993, the Republic’s deputy premier Dick Spring was telling him it will be reviewed, however solely when an total package deal was taking form.

Late in 1992, Mayhew stated that if the IRA renounced violence, Sinn Fein would possibly finally be part of the dialogue, and declared that Britain had “no strategic curiosity” in Northern Eire. The worst Loyalist unrest in Belfast for years adopted.

A yr later the key contacts with the IRA have been revealed after years of denials, embarrassing either side; the conduit was Michael Oatley, a retired MI6 agent. The IRA had reportedly instructed the federal government: “The battle is over, however we want your recommendation on tips on how to carry it to a detailed.”

On December 15 1993, Main and Reynolds issued the Downing Avenue Declaration, confirming the correct of the province’s folks to self-determination. Sinn Fein sought clarification; ministers publicly resisted however gave it. In the meantime the IRA staged mortar assaults on Heathrow.

Mayhew continued to ship out optimistic indicators, saying the IRA wouldn’t must give up, then agreeing to reply questions transmitted by Dublin. Sinn Fein rejected the Declaration, however in September 1994 the IRA introduced the “full cessation of navy operations”. Mayhew responded by cutting down safety in Ulster, the ban on broadcasting the voices of Republicans was lifted and Loyalists too introduced a ceasefire.

The framework doc agreed with Dublin was launched early in 1995, after a leak that outraged Unionists. Orders barring Republican leaders from mainland Britain have been lifted, then 400 troops left the province. Mayhew repeated that the IRA should ship “tangible decommissioning” earlier than talks.

That Might, he had a historic 30-minute assembly with Adams at a Washington funding convention; in personal, they shook fingers. They met twice extra, with out breaking the impasse.

Mayhew triggered fury amongst Republicans – and extra extensively – by releasing Pte Lee Clegg, jailed for homicide after taking pictures a joyrider at a checkpoint, after a marketing campaign by the navy and its supporters at Westminster. Weeks later, he launched 100 IRA prisoners.

With decommissioning by the IRA now a stumbling block between Main and Bruton, a global fee was arrange underneath the previous US Senator George Mitchell. Mayhew proposed an elected “peace conference” to appease the Unionists; Adams was implacably opposed.

The IRA’s London Docklands bombing in February 1996 halted strikes to carry Sinn Fein in from the chilly; Mayhew termed it a “very critical setback”. Talks involving the opposite events finally re-started underneath Mitchell, then elections to the conference gave Sinn Fein 15 per cent of the vote, strengthening its hand.

The low level for Mayhew got here that July. After a four-day confrontation at Drumcree, the RUC let Loyalists march previous a Catholic property, sparking per week of riots. Relations with Dublin have been stated to be at their worst since Bloody Sunday. And a bomb exploded at Enniskillen, the primary in Ulster for almost two years.

Mayhew tried to coax the IRA again on board, however all events have been now anticipating a Labour authorities. Many components of a deal have been now in place, and Mayhew helped put together Mo Mowlam, who could be his Labour successor, to take the work ahead.

Leaving the Commons, Mayhew acquired a life peerage; he was till 2006 an govt member of the Affiliation of Conservative Friends, and from 2000 chaired the prime minister’s committee on enterprise appointments. In 2001 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Kent.

Patrick Mayhew married Jean Gurney in 1963; she and their 4 sons survive him.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden, born September 11 1929, died June 25 2016


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