Tag Archives: obituary

Kathy Baker obituary

A Samaritans volunteer for nearly 50 years, Kathy Baker, who has died aged 70, gave so much of her time to so many. But her enduring legacy will be the groundbreaking Samaritans Listener scheme which she founded in HMP Swansea in 1991 after a 15-year-old boy hanged himself in the prison.

The Listener scheme, whereby prisoners are trained to provide a patient and compassionate ear for fellow prisoners in distress, is one of the most innovative ventures introduced to the UK prison system and has saved countless lives. The governor of Swansea at the time, Jim Heyes, was a man of foresight who had been deeply affected by the death of the youngster and welcomed the Samaritans into his prison. He worked closely with Kathy to establish the Listeners as an integral part of his prison regime. Between them they created “a living organism”, as one governor described it, which has spread so that now every prison in the country is obliged to have such a scheme and to have a relationship with the Samaritans as part of their key performance indicators.

I first met Kathy when I was an early-years life prisoner. As deputy chair of Samaritans, she visited HMP Nottingham in 1992 to meet the new group of Listeners, of whom I was one. We were nervous, but she put us at ease and persuaded us that our voluntary roles would save lives. Fourteen years later and two years after my release, I met her again when I was asked to present her with the 2006 Perrie award, granted each year to the person who has done most to promote an understanding of the work of the Prison Service in England and Wales.

In 1994 Kathy was appointed MBE for services to prisoner welfare. As well as being a part of the service’s Safer Custody Group from the early 1990s, she was the suicide prevention adviser to high-security prisons from 2001 until 2007.

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, Kathy was the daughter of Frances (nee Weir) and Allan Biggar, who met during the second world war – her mother was in the Waaf, her father in the RAF. After the war, Frances became a full-time mother to Kathy and her sister Janet. Allan worked in the family publishing business, before going into journalism, writing for the Sporting Life and the annual Bloodstock Review.

Kathy was educated at Northwood college for girls. At 18 she went on an exchange trip to live with a French family for six months and during this time developed an interest in photography. On her return, she enrolled at Ealing School of Art, studying and qualifying in the subject and planning a photography career, which took her into the research department of Unilever. Soon afterwards she joined her local branch of Samaritans and became a stalwart of the Hillingdon branch throughout the 70s and 80s.

In the mid-70s Kathy was a co-founder of the festival branch – outreach tents at music festivals such as Knebworth and Reading – she and her colleagues arguing that the Samaritans were then seen as “too white and too middle-class” and that they needed to reach out to more diverse and younger people. Her colleague Phil Howes, another festival branch founder, remembered that “Kathy was like a mother hen and we were the chicks all running after her.”

Her Samaritan work at Hillingdon brought Kathy into contact with many prison leavers suffering mental health problems and other vulnerabilities and it was this experience that made her decide to change careers and join the Probation Service at Feltham in 1973. Several years later she became the prison probation officer in HMP Wandsworth. There she recruited prisoners who were coping well to “keep an eye” on those who were obviously not, and this was the starting point of what eventually became the Listeners. In 1991 Kathy was given the pivotal role of liaising between the Prison Service and Samaritans, travelling around the country persuading prison governors of the merits of the scheme.

Kathy met her future husband, Bill Baker, in the early 80s when he was a computer programmer for ICI and a fellow Samaritan. Bill also later became a probation officer and the couple were married in 2001, bringing Kathy three stepchildren. Following their retirement in 2007, Kathy and Bill decided to go on a world sightseeing trip which was cut short when Bill was taken ill and then diagnosed with cancer. Kathy nursed Bill until his death in 2009.

Kathy, now a Samaritan at the central London branch, kept up her involvement with the Listener scheme and other initiatives to reduce suicide in prison, even after she, too, was diagnosed with cancer early in 2016.

In 2017, the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) undertook a collaboration with the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, Inside Time, National Prison Radio and Samaritans to reach out to those in custody, seeking their ideas for keeping people safe in prison. They received more than 200 detailed letters from prisoners, one of whom wrote: “I’m just one of many who have been saved by the Listeners.” Kathy responded personally to every letter.

“Through her professionalism and humanity, Kathy not only saved countless lives, she enabled people in prison to see that they too could save lives and help fellow prisoners in extreme distress,’” said Juliet Lyon, chair of the IAP.

“She had presence,” said Berny, a former long-term prisoner and Listener who after her release became a close friend of Kathy. “Wherever Kathy was, there was a sense of incredible kindness, love and acceptance.”

Kathy rarely spoke about why she did what she did, although she once said: “Enabling people to talk about how they feel is a real gift.” People from all walks of life, and in particular people in custody, will be eternally grateful that she shared that gift.

She is survived by her sister and her mother.

Kathy Mabel Baker, probation officer and Samaritan, born 10 June 1947; died 7 June 2018

Kathy Baker obituary

A Samaritans volunteer for nearly 50 years, Kathy Baker, who has died aged 70, gave so much of her time to so many. But her enduring legacy will be the groundbreaking Samaritans Listener scheme which she founded in HMP Swansea in 1991 after a 15-year-old boy hanged himself in the prison.

The Listener scheme, whereby prisoners are trained to provide a patient and compassionate ear for fellow prisoners in distress, is one of the most innovative ventures introduced to the UK prison system and has saved countless lives. The governor of Swansea at the time, Jim Heyes, was a man of foresight who had been deeply affected by the death of the youngster and welcomed the Samaritans into his prison. He worked closely with Kathy to establish the Listeners as an integral part of his prison regime. Between them they created “a living organism”, as one governor described it, which has spread so that now every prison in the country is obliged to have such a scheme and to have a relationship with the Samaritans as part of their key performance indicators.

I first met Kathy when I was an early-years life prisoner. As deputy chair of Samaritans, she visited HMP Nottingham in 1992 to meet the new group of Listeners, of whom I was one. We were nervous, but she put us at ease and persuaded us that our voluntary roles would save lives. Fourteen years later and two years after my release, I met her again when I was asked to present her with the 2006 Perrie award, granted each year to the person who has done most to promote an understanding of the work of the Prison Service in England and Wales.

In 1994 Kathy was appointed MBE for services to prisoner welfare. As well as being a part of the service’s Safer Custody Group from the early 1990s, she was the suicide prevention adviser to high-security prisons from 2001 until 2007.

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, Kathy was the daughter of Frances (nee Weir) and Allan Biggar, who met during the second world war – her mother was in the Waaf, her father in the RAF. After the war, Frances became a full-time mother to Kathy and her sister Janet. Allan worked in the family publishing business, before going into journalism, writing for the Sporting Life and the annual Bloodstock Review.

Kathy was educated at Northwood college for girls. At 18 she went on an exchange trip to live with a French family for six months and during this time developed an interest in photography. On her return, she enrolled at Ealing School of Art, studying and qualifying in the subject and planning a photography career, which took her into the research department of Unilever. Soon afterwards she joined her local branch of Samaritans and became a stalwart of the Hillingdon branch throughout the 70s and 80s.

In the mid-70s Kathy was a co-founder of the festival branch – outreach tents at music festivals such as Knebworth and Reading – she and her colleagues arguing that the Samaritans were then seen as “too white and too middle-class” and that they needed to reach out to more diverse and younger people. Her colleague Phil Howes, another festival branch founder, remembered that “Kathy was like a mother hen and we were the chicks all running after her.”

Her Samaritan work at Hillingdon brought Kathy into contact with many prison leavers suffering mental health problems and other vulnerabilities and it was this experience that made her decide to change careers and join the Probation Service at Feltham in 1973. Several years later she became the prison probation officer in HMP Wandsworth. There she recruited prisoners who were coping well to “keep an eye” on those who were obviously not, and this was the starting point of what eventually became the Listeners. In 1991 Kathy was given the pivotal role of liaising between the Prison Service and Samaritans, travelling around the country persuading prison governors of the merits of the scheme.

Kathy met her future husband, Bill Baker, in the early 80s when he was a computer programmer for ICI and a fellow Samaritan. Bill also later became a probation officer and the couple were married in 2001, bringing Kathy three stepchildren. Following their retirement in 2007, Kathy and Bill decided to go on a world sightseeing trip which was cut short when Bill was taken ill and then diagnosed with cancer. Kathy nursed Bill until his death in 2009.

Kathy, now a Samaritan at the central London branch, kept up her involvement with the Listener scheme and other initiatives to reduce suicide in prison, even after she, too, was diagnosed with cancer early in 2016.

In 2017, the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) undertook a collaboration with the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, Inside Time, National Prison Radio and Samaritans to reach out to those in custody, seeking their ideas for keeping people safe in prison. They received more than 200 detailed letters from prisoners, one of whom wrote: “I’m just one of many who have been saved by the Listeners.” Kathy responded personally to every letter.

“Through her professionalism and humanity, Kathy not only saved countless lives, she enabled people in prison to see that they too could save lives and help fellow prisoners in extreme distress,’” said Juliet Lyon, chair of the IAP.

“She had presence,” said Berny, a former long-term prisoner and Listener who after her release became a close friend of Kathy. “Wherever Kathy was, there was a sense of incredible kindness, love and acceptance.”

Kathy rarely spoke about why she did what she did, although she once said: “Enabling people to talk about how they feel is a real gift.” People from all walks of life, and in particular people in custody, will be eternally grateful that she shared that gift.

She is survived by her sister and her mother.

Kathy Mabel Baker, probation officer and Samaritan, born 10 June 1947; died 7 June 2018

Jim Callaghan obituary

It was a source of considerable personal pride to the former Manchester MP Jim Callaghan, who has died aged 91, that after a lifetime spent seeking to improve health services in his constituency, his efforts were recognised, 10 years after his retirement from the House of Commons, when the local NHS centre was renamed in his honour. On visiting Callaghan House, in Cross Street, Heywood, he was also able to commend the health authority for ensuring that the disabled facilities complied with legislation he had introduced at Westminster.

He was a profoundly modest man – he used to introduce himself as “the other James Callaghan” – who had been born into the rough, tough streets of Manchester and who well understood the poverty of the urban slums in which he was raised and the acute social deprivation he later witnessed as a teacher in the city.

He had an Irish Catholic background and a father who was at one time a lorry driver. He never spoke of his family, nor disclosed personal details even of his parents’ names or his own early education, but there was a hint of a difficult street-fighting youth. He admitted once that there was a time when he was “constantly in trouble”, that he could find his way blindfold to the local hospital and that the doctors there would greet him with: “Not you again, Callaghan!”

By his mid-20s, however, he had turned his life around, secured qualifications from Manchester and London universities and started teaching sport in junior schools in his home city before being appointed in 1959 as a lecturer in art at St John’s and Openshaw Technical College (now the Manchester College). He retained a love of art and sport throughout his life, but never forgot the postwar slums that politicised him. Having joined the Labour party, he was elected to Middleton council in 1971 and then pulled off the considerable feat of narrowly taking the Middleton and Prestwich parliamentary seat from the Conservatives in the “Who Governs Britain?” general election of February 1974.

“Little Jim”, as he became known at Westminster (he was considerably shorter than his famous namesake), was widely liked, as much by his fellow MPs as by his constituents. He was initially embarrassed when occasionally mistaken for James Callaghan (who became prime minister in 1976), particularly when travelling abroad and finding himself unexpectedly upgraded by foreign dignitaries. In time he grew to laugh and enjoy it.

MPs liked him because he was decent, diligent and stuck to his principles without pretension or pursuit of promotion. He was correspondingly popular in the constituency because his views were similar to many of those he represented: he was an old-style Tribune group leftwinger, opposed to Europe, nuclear weapons and power, and what he regarded as unnecessary bellicosity in the Falklands and the Gulf.

Most significant, though, was his pursuit of every government to secure better education, to improve the health service and to speak out in defence of those who had no voice of their own. He was never afraid to express controversial views and was an early advocate of a ban on public smoking. He was concerned about excessive violence being shown on television because of the possible impact on family life and repeatedly attempted to outlaw boxing as a sport because of what he described as the terrible tragedies and hazards involved.

His sincerity was evident in all his speeches and he was consequently heard with respect. Early in his parliamentary career he successfully proposed a private member’s bill, amending the law on disabled access to commercial buildings, and was subsequently promoted to become parliamentary private secretary to the chief secretary to the Treasury, Joel Barnett, giving him a toehold on the lowest rung on the ladder for political promotion.

Within three months, in early 1976, he nevertheless voted against his own Labour government – obliging the prime minister, Harold Wilson, to stage a vote of confidence – and he was predictably sacked. By an odd quirk, he later found himself in a popularity contest with Barnett, his parliamentary neighbour, for the redrawn constituency of Heywood and Middleton, which he won in 1983.

During Michael Foot’s tenure of the Labour leadership, Callaghan sat briefly on the opposition frontbench as a junior spokesman on Europe from 1982, but thereafter his career was concentrated on parliamentary work out of any sort of limelight.

He was an assiduous member of Commons’ select committees on transport, education and national heritage. He sat on the Commons’ catering committee and on the Speaker’s panel of committee chairmen. Having reached the age of 70, he stood down at the 1997 election, glad to have more time for art.

James Callaghan, politician, born 28 January 1927; died 29 March 2018

Jim Callaghan obituary

It was a source of considerable personal pride to the former Manchester MP Jim Callaghan, who has died aged 91, that after a lifetime spent seeking to improve health services in his constituency, his efforts were recognised, 10 years after his retirement from the House of Commons, when the local NHS centre was renamed in his honour. On visiting Callaghan House, in Cross Street, Heywood, he was also able to commend the health authority for ensuring that the disabled facilities complied with legislation he had introduced at Westminster.

He was a profoundly modest man – he used to introduce himself as “the other James Callaghan” – who had been born into the rough, tough streets of Manchester and who well understood the poverty of the urban slums in which he was raised and the acute social deprivation he later witnessed as a teacher in the city.

He had an Irish Catholic background and a father who was at one time a lorry driver. He never spoke of his family, nor disclosed personal details even of his parents’ names or his own early education, but there was a hint of a difficult street-fighting youth. He admitted once that there was a time when he was “constantly in trouble”, that he could find his way blindfold to the local hospital and that the doctors there would greet him with: “Not you again, Callaghan!”

By his mid-20s, however, he had turned his life around, secured qualifications from Manchester and London universities and started teaching sport in junior schools in his home city before being appointed in 1959 as a lecturer in art at St John’s and Openshaw Technical College (now the Manchester College). He retained a love of art and sport throughout his life, but never forgot the postwar slums that politicised him. Having joined the Labour party, he was elected to Middleton council in 1971 and then pulled off the considerable feat of narrowly taking the Middleton and Prestwich parliamentary seat from the Conservatives in the “Who Governs Britain?” general election of February 1974.

“Little Jim”, as he became known at Westminster (he was considerably shorter than his famous namesake), was widely liked, as much by his fellow MPs as by his constituents. He was initially embarrassed when occasionally mistaken for James Callaghan (who became prime minister in 1976), particularly when travelling abroad and finding himself unexpectedly upgraded by foreign dignitaries. In time he grew to laugh and enjoy it.

MPs liked him because he was decent, diligent and stuck to his principles without pretension or pursuit of promotion. He was correspondingly popular in the constituency because his views were similar to many of those he represented: he was an old-style Tribune group leftwinger, opposed to Europe, nuclear weapons and power, and what he regarded as unnecessary bellicosity in the Falklands and the Gulf.

Most significant, though, was his pursuit of every government to secure better education, to improve the health service and to speak out in defence of those who had no voice of their own. He was never afraid to express controversial views and was an early advocate of a ban on public smoking. He was concerned about excessive violence being shown on television because of the possible impact on family life and repeatedly attempted to outlaw boxing as a sport because of what he described as the terrible tragedies and hazards involved.

His sincerity was evident in all his speeches and he was consequently heard with respect. Early in his parliamentary career he successfully proposed a private member’s bill, amending the law on disabled access to commercial buildings, and was subsequently promoted to become parliamentary private secretary to the chief secretary to the Treasury, Joel Barnett, giving him a toehold on the lowest rung on the ladder for political promotion.

Within three months, in early 1976, he nevertheless voted against his own Labour government – obliging the prime minister, Harold Wilson, to stage a vote of confidence – and he was predictably sacked. By an odd quirk, he later found himself in a popularity contest with Barnett, his parliamentary neighbour, for the redrawn constituency of Heywood and Middleton, which he won in 1983.

During Michael Foot’s tenure of the Labour leadership, Callaghan sat briefly on the opposition frontbench as a junior spokesman on Europe from 1982, but thereafter his career was concentrated on parliamentary work out of any sort of limelight.

He was an assiduous member of Commons’ select committees on transport, education and national heritage. He sat on the Commons’ catering committee and on the Speaker’s panel of committee chairmen. Having reached the age of 70, he stood down at the 1997 election, glad to have more time for art.

James Callaghan, politician, born 28 January 1927; died 29 March 2018

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and in 2005 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and in 2005 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Centre and in 2007 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

Walter Holland obituary

My friend Walter Holland, who has died aged 88, was an academic and doctor whose hallmarks were a passionate commitment to science and the will and political skills to make things happen through evidence-based advocacy and a sound critique of health policy.

He became professor of clinical epidemiology and social medicine at St Thomas’ hospital medical school, London, in 1968, at a time when the hospital was about to be rebuilt. He was determined that the new facilities should reflect the needs of the local population and established the first Health Services Research Unit, staffed with epidemiologists, social scientists, economists and statisticians. He set up a committee for community medicine (which he chaired) to prepare the hospital for the 1974 NHS reforms and make sure these improved the health of communities, and not just hospital structures.

Walter was born in Teplice-Šanov (Teplice) in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic), son of Henry Holland, a businessman, and his wife, Hertha (nee Zentner). With the rise of Adolf Hitler, the family fled to the UK in 1939. Walter attended Rugby school, Warwickshire, then St Thomas’, qualifying in 1954. He did national service from 1956 to 1958.

Walter was appointed a lecturer in the department of medicine at St Thomas’ early in his career, then became a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, followed by a year at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He returned to the UK in 1964 and subsequently to St Thomas’, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1994.

Walter’s groundbreaking randomised controlled trial, over nine years from 1967, demonstrated major problems with the practice of multiphasic screening – screening for several conditions through several different tests. More than 7,000 participants were either screened with a battery of tests or were not screened at all. The study found no difference between the two groups in terms of hospital admissions, sickness or mortality. The findings, published in 1977, were a great surprise as it had been supposed that such screening must be a good idea.

After retiring from St Thomas’ he carried on his public health work at the London School of Economics, where he was active writing, advising and teaching. Walter served on many national and international committees. He was president of the International Epidemiological Association and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine. He was also founder editor of the Oxford Textbook of Public Health. He was appointed CBE in 1992.

He and his wife, Fiona, lived for many years in Kew and Twickenham. He was an avid reader and had a huge collection of books. He was interested in history, art and travel and enjoyed walking in the countryside.

He is survived by Fiona (nee Love), whom he married in 1964, three sons, Peter, Richard and Michael, and seven grandchildren.

Walter Holland obituary

My friend Walter Holland, who has died aged 88, was an academic and doctor whose hallmarks were a passionate commitment to science and the will and political skills to make things happen through evidence-based advocacy and a sound critique of health policy.

He became professor of clinical epidemiology and social medicine at St Thomas’ hospital medical school, London, in 1968, at a time when the hospital was about to be rebuilt. He was determined that the new facilities should reflect the needs of the local population and established the first Health Services Research Unit, staffed with epidemiologists, social scientists, economists and statisticians. He set up a committee for community medicine (which he chaired) to prepare the hospital for the 1974 NHS reforms and make sure these improved the health of communities, and not just hospital structures.

Walter was born in Teplice-Šanov (Teplice) in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic), son of Henry Holland, a businessman, and his wife, Hertha (nee Zentner). With the rise of Adolf Hitler, the family fled to the UK in 1939. Walter attended Rugby school, Warwickshire, then St Thomas’, qualifying in 1954. He did national service from 1956 to 1958.

Walter was appointed a lecturer in the department of medicine at St Thomas’ early in his career, then became a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, followed by a year at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He returned to the UK in 1964 and subsequently to St Thomas’, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1994.

Walter’s groundbreaking randomised controlled trial, over nine years from 1967, demonstrated major problems with the practice of multiphasic screening – screening for several conditions through several different tests. More than 7,000 participants were either screened with a battery of tests or were not screened at all. The study found no difference between the two groups in terms of hospital admissions, sickness or mortality. The findings, published in 1977, were a great surprise as it had been supposed that such screening must be a good idea.

After retiring from St Thomas’ he carried on his public health work at the London School of Economics, where he was active writing, advising and teaching. Walter served on many national and international committees. He was president of the International Epidemiological Association and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine. He was also founder editor of the Oxford Textbook of Public Health. He was appointed CBE in 1992.

He and his wife, Fiona, lived for many years in Kew and Twickenham. He was an avid reader and had a huge collection of books. He was interested in history, art and travel and enjoyed walking in the countryside.

He is survived by Fiona (nee Love), whom he married in 1964, three sons, Peter, Richard and Michael, and seven grandchildren.

Walter Holland obituary

My friend Walter Holland, who has died aged 88, was an academic and doctor whose hallmarks were a passionate commitment to science and the will and political skills to make things happen through evidence-based advocacy and a sound critique of health policy.

He became professor of clinical epidemiology and social medicine at St Thomas’ hospital medical school, London, in 1968, at a time when the hospital was about to be rebuilt. He was determined that the new facilities should reflect the needs of the local population and established the first Health Services Research Unit, staffed with epidemiologists, social scientists, economists and statisticians. He set up a committee for community medicine (which he chaired) to prepare the hospital for the 1974 NHS reforms and make sure these improved the health of communities, and not just hospital structures.

Walter was born in Teplice-Šanov (Teplice) in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic), son of Henry Holland, a businessman, and his wife, Hertha (nee Zentner). With the rise of Adolf Hitler, the family fled to the UK in 1939. Walter attended Rugby school, Warwickshire, then St Thomas’, qualifying in 1954. He did national service from 1956 to 1958.

Walter was appointed a lecturer in the department of medicine at St Thomas’ early in his career, then became a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, followed by a year at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He returned to the UK in 1964 and subsequently to St Thomas’, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1994.

Walter’s groundbreaking randomised controlled trial, over nine years from 1967, demonstrated major problems with the practice of multiphasic screening – screening for several conditions through several different tests. More than 7,000 participants were either screened with a battery of tests or were not screened at all. The study found no difference between the two groups in terms of hospital admissions, sickness or mortality. The findings, published in 1977, were a great surprise as it had been supposed that such screening must be a good idea.

After retiring from St Thomas’ he carried on his public health work at the London School of Economics, where he was active writing, advising and teaching. Walter served on many national and international committees. He was president of the International Epidemiological Association and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine. He was also founder editor of the Oxford Textbook of Public Health. He was appointed CBE in 1992.

He and his wife, Fiona, lived for many years in Kew and Twickenham. He was an avid reader and had a huge collection of books. He was interested in history, art and travel and enjoyed walking in the countryside.

He is survived by Fiona (nee Love), whom he married in 1964, three sons, Peter, Richard and Michael, and seven grandchildren.