Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Monday, 21 January 2008

From curry hell to model citizen

Abdul Latif outside his restaurant
Entrepreneur Abdul Latif was a keen self-publicist
Flamboyant restaurateur Abdul Latif might be best known for his claim that he served the world's hottest curry, but he was also a pillar of the local community.

The 52-year-old businessman, who died of a heart attack at his North East home on Sunday, branded himself as the first Bangladeshi Lord of the Manor when he bought the title Lord of Harpole for 5,000.

His publicity stunts ensured he was regularly in the public eye, but he was also a pillar of the local community.

Mr Latif came to Newcastle from Bangladesh in 1976.

'Curry mentalist'

He established a city centre restaurant, which used to be known as the Rupali, and came to feature in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's longest-distance curry delivery - from Newcastle to Sydney.

Cover of Viz
Mr Latif regularly featured in Viz comic

It also offered "curry hell", claiming to be the world's hottest curry and free to anyone who managed to empty their plate. Many attempted the challenge, but few succeeded.

In 2003 there was an offer of free meals for five years to all British servicemen and women who served in Iraq.

He sent free curries to staff at Viz comic, which responded by featuring him in the cult publication as a "curry mentalist".

Simon Thorp, one of the co-editors at Viz, said: "We would use him if we wanted any references to curry or gastric upsets.

"He didn't mind what we said, and was happy for us to malign him in any way - he welcomed all publicity."

Mr Thorp added: "He was a very kind man. We liked him a lot."

He never said no to anyone who went to him for help
Hari Shukla, friend of Mr Latif

Apart from his restaurant business he supported a number of charities and was active within the local community, becoming a member of the Tyne and Wear Racial Equality Council.

The leader of Newcastle City Council called him an ambassador for the city.

Hari Shukla, former director of the equality council, and a good friend of Mr Latif, described him as a total gentleman.

He said of the father-of-five: "He had a tremendous spirit of caring for people, he never said no to anyone who went to him for help.

"He believed in total integration, and was proud of being a Newcastle citizen."

Mr Shukla said Mr Latif was extremely proud when he bought his Lord of Harpole title.

"He really believed in it, he always used to say 'my first responsibility is to this country'.

"When we talk about harmony, diversity and peace we will always think about him because he supported those values."



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