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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 15:43 GMT
Obituary: Sir Nicholas Scott
Sir Nicholas Scott
Time magazine tipped Sir Nicholas as a future world leader
When news of Sir Nicholas Scott's death reached Michael Howard, the Tory leader was quick to pay tribute to one of the more colourful characters in recent British political history.

A former Northern Ireland minister, once tipped by Time magazine as a potential world leader, Sir Nicholas is still held in affection by many in the Commons.

But it is likely that the upsets in his career will be remembered more keenly than the highpoints.

History can sometimes correct the errors of immediate judgment, but those of us who knew him knew who the real Sir Nicholas Scott was
Michael Jack
As minister for the disabled he was forced to apologise for misleading MPs over the government's undercover attempts to kill a bill giving equal rights to people with disabilities.

His daughter, disability rights lobbyist Victoria, joined calls for Sir Nicholas's resignation.

"Professionally, I am very , very angry. Personally, I feel rather let down," she said at the time.

It was not long after that Sir Nicholas was returned to the backbenches.

'Gutter'

He next hit the headlines in June 1995 when he was arrested for walking away from the scene of a car accident in which a man and a three-year-old child in a pushchair were injured.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott worked for the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation

The following year the Kensington and Chelsea MP was fined for drink driving and failing to stop over the incident.

Then during the 1996 Tory party conference in Bournemouth, he was found lying in the gutter and escorted to his hotel by police.

He insisted the fall was caused by painkillers reacting with two glasses of wine.

But in December he was deselected and replaced by the flamboyant Alan Clarke.

Pro-European

Born in 1933, Sir Nicholas first entered Parliament as MP for South Paddington in 1966.

By 1970 he was parliamentary private secretary to then Chancellor Iain MacLeod who died in office.

He lost his first seat in 1974, but came back the same year as member for Chelsea.

Northern Ireland post

A pro-European with moderate views, he backed Edward Heath in the Tory leadership battle.

He was then sacked as shadow housing minister by the victorious Margaret Thatcher.

In 1981 she readmitted him to the fold as junior Northern Ireland minister.

But his tenure was overshadowed by a mass breakout of 38 terrorists from the notorious Maze prison in 1983.

Nick's Diner

Sir Nicholas weathered the storm and moved to the disability portfolio in 1987.

He left Parliament and received a knighthood - perhaps in recognition of what might have been.

He was seen as the "wettest" of those Mrs Thatcher allowed into government.

Amid Tory circles he will also be remembered as the laid-back founder of Nick's Diner - the Westminster supper club for daring "wets" to let off anti-Thatcher steam.

The current convener of the club, Michael Jack said: "History can sometimes correct the errors of immediate judgment, but those of us who knew him knew who the real Sir Nicholas Scott was."


SEE ALSO:
Former NI minister Scott dies
06 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland


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