Conservative Party grandee and former Deputy Party Chairman Lord McAlpine has died aged 71.
Born in 1942, McAlpine was a member of the construction giant dynasty that bears the family name. McAlpine were heavily involved in the London Olympic works, including construction of the main stadium. Lord McAlpine left school with only three O levels, but went on make a fortune in Australian property development.
During his political career, Lord McAlpine, the Baron of West Green, held a number of high profile posts, including party treasurer throughout Thatcher’s premiership, and aide to the PM whom he is said to have met at a dinner in 1975.
During his time in charge of Tory finances, McAlpine is thought to have generated £100 million in donations. He was awarded his Baronate in 1986.
Such prominence brought with it dangers however, and McAlpine was said to have been a target for the IRA. In 1990 the mansion of West Green House, where McAlpine had lived only three weeks previously, was attacked by the Irish Republican group.
A fierce ally of Thatcher, McAlpine became critical of the party following her departure, and of John Major in particular. Noted eurosceptic, McAlpine defected to the Referendum Party and became its leader in 1997 following the death of Sir James Goldsmith. He later rejoined the Conservatives, but in 2010 stood down from the House of Lords.
In 2012 Lord McAlpine was wrongly implicated an BBC Newsnight investigation into child abuse claims at a North Wales children’s home during the 1970s and 1980s. McAlpine successfully challenged the BBC over the story, and received £185,000 from the broadcaster. The BBC Trust found that the Newsnight investigation had failed to meet its own journalistic standards. In November 2012 George Entwistle reigned as Director General as a result of the McAlpine case.
Prime Minister Cameron led tributes to the peer, calling McAlpine a “dedicated supporter of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party”. Colleagues labeled McAlpine a “towering figure”, and current Party Chairman Grant Shapps honoured the late peer’s “huge contribution to public life”.
A statement issued on behalf the family concluded that Lord McAlpine had passed away peacefully at the family home in Italy.
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