It is with huge sorrow that I announce that my good friend and prececessor Sir Philip Goodhart died on Sunday 5th July.
Schooled primarily in America Philip joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 1944 and at the end of the war transferred to the Parachute Regiment. With the Paras he served in Palestine until he left the Army in 1947 when he went to Trinity College, Cambridge to study History. Thereafter he became a journalist first with the Telegraph and then the Times. During the Suez Crisis in 1956 he hitch-hiked to Port Said, assisted by some friends in the Parachute Regiment and reported back to his newspaper in London - although none of his despatches managed to reach UK.
In 1950, as a Conservative candidate, he had unsuccessfully contested the safe Labour seat of Consett but in a by-election in 1957 was selected for Beckenham where he served as the Conservative MP for 35 years until 1992. He was a minister for two years of that time; from 1979 - 81 when he was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Sir Philip was knighted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A superb intellect Philip wrote very many books and booklets including his definitive history of the Conservative's 1922 Committee.
Very sadly he Sir Philip lost his wife Valerie last year. She had been incapacitated and ill for a very long time. But in their long and happy life together they had had seven children. To the end he retained many good friends in Beckenham. Philip's brain was always in full function - recently though he told me that he just cursed he wretched body which didn't seem to do what it was told! I met Philip for lunch frequently and I will miss those occasions a lot as we discussed many things and laughed a lot. I have lost a seriously good friend and I mourn his passing greatly.