Monday, September 21, 2009
I've just arrived home from a dinner at Lancashire County Cricket Club to be told of the sad death of Piers Merchant.
I first met Piers in the '90s when he was MP for Beckenham and I was Deputy Director of Bromley Centre for Voluntary Service. I used to escort him around various charity events in his constituency, given the task largely because of my political sympathies I think.
Our paths crossed again in 2004 when he joined UKIP and stood in the North East in the EU elections and I stood in the North West. While working for UKIP I lobbied hard for Piers to be appointed General Secretary but to no avail, I'm not sure he ever ever actually wanted the job.
When I left UKIP last year I spoke regularly with Piers and greatly valued his wisdom and honesty at a very difficult time. He was honest, politically astute, a gentleman and a character. We never actually spent a great deal of time in each other's company, but it felt that way he was so easy to get along with and such good company when you did spend time with him.
He will be greatly missed, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.