Nicholas Lyell

From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Person.png Nicholas Lyell  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Lord Lyell of Markyate BBC.jpg
Born6 December 1938
London, United Kingdom
Died30 August 2010 (Age 71)
Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Alma materWellesley House School, Stowe School, Christ Church (Oxford)
Parents • Maurice Lyell
• Veronica Luard
Member ofBullingdon Club
Bullingdon Club UK politician and Attorney General

Employment.png Shadow Attorney General Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
2 May 1997 - 19 June 1997
Preceded byJohn Morris

Employment.png Attorney General for England and Wales Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
10 April 1992 - 2 May 1997
Preceded byPatrick Mayhew
Succeeded byJohn Morris

Employment.png Attorney General for Northern Ireland Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
10 April 1992 - 2 May 1997
Preceded byPatrick Mayhew
Succeeded byJohn Morris

Employment.png Solicitor General for England and Wales Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
13 June 1987 - 10 April 1992
Preceded byPatrick Mayhew

Nicholas Walter Lyell, Baron Lyell of Markyate was an English member of the Bullingdon Club and Conservative politician. Together with William Waldegrave, he was a target of criticism in the Scott Report.[1]

Early life

Born in London, he was the son of Sir Maurice Lyell, a High Court judge, and Veronica Luard, a sculptor and designer whose father, Lowes Dalbiac Luard,[2] had been a contemporary of Augustus John and Walter Sickert. His mother died when he was 11, leaving Lyell and his sister Prue to continue their mother's work to preserve the work of their grandfather.[3]

Educated at Wellesley House School in the coastal town of Broadstairs in Kent and at Stowe School, he was his father's best man when he married the also widowed Kitty, Lady Farrar, younger daughter of Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount Runciman of Doxford. Lyell read modern history at Christ Church, Oxford, where he joined the Bullingdon club, and after National Service with the Royal Artillery trained as a lawyer.[3]

Political careeer

In the 1974 General Election, Lyell stood for the Conservative Party as a candidate for the Lambeth Central constituency in London. He was Member of Parliament for the Hemel Hempstead constituency from 1979 to 1983, for the Mid Bedfordshire constituency from 1983 to 1997 and for the North East Bedfordshire constituency from 1997 to 2001. He did not run for re-election in 2001.[4]

From 1979 to 1986 he was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) under Sir Michael Havers in his function as Attorney General. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appointed him Minister of State for Health and Social Security (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security) on 10 September 1986, a post he held until June 1987. On 13 June 1987 he was appointed Solicitor General and held the position until April 1992. From April 1992 to May 1997, he was Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland under Prime Minister John Major. After the defeat of the Conservative Party in the 1997 British General Election, he accepted the offer of William Hague and still held the post of Shadow Attorney General from 1997 to 1999.[4]

Solicitor General and Attorney General

In his capacity as Solicitor General and Attorney General, Lyell repeatedly advised Margaret Thatcher and John Major on legal issues in the political-legal field. As a legal adviser, he was involved, among other things, in Thatcher's reforms of trade union law (Reform of Trade Union Law) and mediated in Thatcher's disputes between the British Bar Association and the government over the termination of the exclusive right of barristers to appear before the High Court.

During his tenure, Lyell was among those involved in the so-called Arms-to-Iraq affair. In the period after the First Gulf War, a public interest arose in the investigation of the extent to which British business enterprises had also supplied weapons to Iraq. An indictment was brought against the British machine tool manufacturer Matrix Churchill, accused of illegally exporting equipment to Saddam Hussein's weapons factories, who defended itself by saying that the British government had known about the exports. It turned out that Lyell had asked a total of four ministers, including Trade Minister Alan Clark and Defense Minister Michael Heseltine, the president of the Board of Trade, to declare documents and information as secret (Public Interest Immunity Certificate), for which this was generally not customary, in order to deprive the defense access. Lyell justified this on national security grounds. A judicial inquiry set up in 1992, the so-called Scott Report, chaired by the judge Richard Scott, established Lyell's responsibility, but held to his credit that he "had acted in good faith". The results of the investigation compromised Lyell, who subsequently offered his resignation; however, Prime Minister John Major did not dismiss him. A vote in the House of Commons in 1996 after the publication of the Scott report with the aim of removing Lyell from office failed with a narrow majority of 320:319 votes.[3]

In the early 1990s, Lyell was also involved in the affair of the temporarily fugitive Turkish Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir, who had been accused of fraud and bribery in the UK, among other things. Lyell informed John Major about the personal contacts of the then Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Michael Mates, with Nadir, which eventually led to Mates' dismissal.

On several occasions, Lyell also tried to prevent the fugitive spy George Blake, now living in Moscow, from receiving royalties for the publication of his autobiography No Other Choice. Lyell also admitted the charges against the then 84-year-old Szymon Serafinowicz, a former police chief from Belarussia and grandfather of the British comedian Peter Serafinowicz, as a war criminal under the War Crimes Act 1991.[5]

He was also chairman of governors at Stowe School, 2001-07.[3]

Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.