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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Maverick MP Alan Clark dies

Alan Clark: Had been treated for a brain tumour

Veteran Conservative MP Alan Clark died on Sunday at his home in Saltwood, Kent, his family has revealed.

The BBC's Vicki Young: "He was a political maverick"
The maverick Tory had recently been treated for a brain tumour. He died suddenly, his family said in a statement.

A private funeral service has already taken place for the 71-year-old MP for Kensington and Chelsea.

He is remembered in Northern Ireland for remarks made during a Conservative Party conference.

He said that the only solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland was to "take out and shoot 600 IRA suspects".

The apparently off-the-cuff remarks sparked a furious reaction in Ireland. Mr Clark claimed afterwards that he was misquoted.

A self-confessed philanderer, he revelled in his reputation for shocking his colleagues by speaking frankly when it often might have helped his career to stay silent.

He once appeared drunk at the despatch box, but his light-hearted comments belied his passionate commitment to the many issues he raised in Parliament.

[ image: Tony Blair was quick to pay tribute to the maverick Tory]
Tony Blair was quick to pay tribute to the maverick Tory
Prime Minister Tony Blair was among the first to pay tribute to the veteran politician. "We will all miss him," Mr Blair said.

"He was a complete one-off and, above all, his own man."

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher - whom the MP once described as a "force of nature" - was also quick to praise her former colleague.

"Alan Clark was a doughty parliamentarian, an accomplished historian and a Tory to his fingertips," she said.

"Politics is poorer and the world duller with his passing."

A vegetarian who backed hanging

[ image: Mo Mowlam; admired for her fight against illness by Alan Clark]
Mo Mowlam; admired for her fight against illness by Alan Clark
After his cancer diagnosis, Mr Clark had promised to try to confront the illness with the strength of the Northern Ireland secretary.

"If I can comport myself with the dignity and competence of Ms Mo Mowlam I shall be very satisfied," he had said.

Under Lady Thatcher, Mr Clark held the posts of trade minister, employment minister and defence minister. But he never managed to make it into the Cabinet.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: "He was an extraordinary character"
Besides his well-known diaries, he also wrote a number of books on military history.

But he consistently pursued his own logic throughout a myriad of political debates.

A committed vegetarian, he opposed fox hunting but supported hanging.

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