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MERCHANT, Piers 21-Sept-2009 – IN MEMORIAM

Posted by Greg Lance - Watkins (Greg_L-W) on 21/09/2017



Piers Merchant

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Piers Rolf Garfield Merchant
(born: 2 January 1951) & (died: 21 September 2009)
aged 58

Piers Merchant was a politician in the United Kingdom.
He was Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Beckenham, but resigned in October 1997.

Before he became an MP he was a journalist and marketing officer.

Merchant was educated at Nottingham High School and the University of Durham where he was Senior Man of University College’s JCR. He was first elected to the House of Commons at the 1983 general election, for the Newcastle Central constituency, he lost the seat at the June 1987 general election. He stood for Beckenham at the 1992 general election and won.

MPs cannot technically resign; instead he took the offices of Steward of the Manor of Northstead, which automatically led to his disqualification.

In the 2004 European Parliament election, Merchant stood for the UK Independence Party in the North East England constituency, at the top of their party list. He was not elected.

Piers Merchant worked for some years, in various capacities, for UKIP, having been at one time political advisor to Roger Knapman the UKIP leader during their sucessful 2004 election and also for a short time acted as UKIP General Secretary until a suitable individual could be found full time.

In 2005, Merchant relocated to Great Torrington in North Devon. Merchant is also a member of Mensa.
It is with regret that I inform you that in early July 2009 Piers was diagnosed as having advanced prostate cancer leading to multi site metastatic cancer, the prognosis being bleak. His wife Helen supported by their two children is with him at this time. (07-Jul-09)

It is with regret that I inform you that on 21-Sep-2009 Piers Merchant died after a short terminal illness. The cause of death was multi site metastatic prostate cancer.

Piers Merchant leaves his wife Helen and their daughter and a teenage son. Piers had faced his illness with courage, supported by his family, and leaves many friends and colleagues, Piers’ brother will find it particularly hard as their Mother had died only a matter of a few months ago after a brief terminal illness, though at a much more acceptable age.

The EUroRealist movement has lost an indefatiguable campaigner and a well informed advocate, whose contribution in UKIP has been immense. He will be remembered with affection by his many colleagues in UKIP and before that from his days as a Conservative MP and before.

It is sad that his colleagues in UKIP did so little to defend his name when he was lied about and defamed by Mark Croucher, Douglas Denny and others who claimed he had betrayed the party by being ‘Junius’ when clearly he was not nor ever wrote as part of that team as proven when he died. There were even lies put forward that he had tampered with UKIP web site to send copies of eMails to him for publication on Junius.

This was clearly all too typical of the dishonesty of UKIP’s leadership team and its odious claque of self serving low lifes.

Not ONE of UKIP’s leaders or followers spoke out in his defence, either before or after his demise!

My personal condolences to their children Alethea and Rolf and to his widow Helen Merchant (nee Burrlock) whom he married in 1977. Helen loyally stood by Piers throughout the visicitudes of a colourfull and productive life, whilst maintaining a high powered career in her own right.

Much of Piers’ life was spent in service to British liberty and democracy, though he will be remembered by many for his colourfull private life – a life too soon lost!

Further details of his life can be found if you CLICK HERE:

Piers Merchant

Piers Merchant, who has died aged 58, was a Conservative MP catapulted out of relative obscurity by being photographed locked in a passionate embrace with a blonde “hostess” at the height of the 1997 general election campaign.

The campaign had up until that point been dominated by a succession of stories about Tory financial and sexual “sleaze”. But the photograph, taken in broad daylight in a park in the married MP’s Beckenham constituency, represented a nadir in the party’s fortunes.


The Sun, which had switched allegiance from the Conservatives to Labour just days earlier, published the photograph on its front page and accused Merchant of indulging in “an open-air sex romp”.

It identified the object of his affections as being one Anna Cox, a 17-year-old who had worked at the Casa Rosa nightclub in Soho in the euphemistically-named “hostess” business. The newspaper accused Merchant of having an affair with Cox and wrote a trenchant leader column demanding that he be “publicly horsewhipped”.


“I’m not old enough to vote – but I’m old enough to know when I’ve been used,” the paper quoted her as saying.

The story dominated the election for five days. The errant MP was dubbed “sleaze Merchant” and castigated for epitomising everything that was wrong with the rapacious Conservative Party under John Major.

His parliamentary colleagues, among whom he was almost universally well-respected, privately wondered how he could have been so stupid. The Tory high command publicly called on him to “consider his position”.

The hapless Merchant protested his innocence and told anyone who would listen that he had been set up. He insisted that the tryst had lasted for less than two minutes and that he had met Cox on no more than a handful of previous occasions. One of his few public supporters was his wife Helen, who conceded that her husband had been a “bloody fool” but said that she still loved him regardless.

Despite the uproar, Merchant held Beckenham with a respectable majority at an election in which the Tory party suffered its worst defeat since 1832. The matter might have ended there. But Merchant, determined to get to the bottom of the episode, decided that the only way to find out the truth was to befriend Cox.

He successfully achieved this by employing her as a researcher to work on a book he was writing about parliamentary sex scandals. Cox revealed, he said, that she had been recruited straight out of Soho to act as a “honey trap” by The Sun. The paper was apparently anxious to stitch up some Tory MPs as an act of fealty to its new political overlords in the Labour Party.

As chance would have it, The Sun‘s deputy news editor, Neil Wallis, was an old rival of Merchant’s from their days spent working on local newspapers in the North East. Cox had been speculatively sent along to a Tory meeting to get close to Merchant, just in case his eye for an attractive young girl got the better of his judgment.

It did. After asking if she could accompany him around the constituency as he delivered his election material, Cox then suggested they take a detour through a local park. The couple sat on a bench where, Merchant claimed, Cox made a pass at him. Unbeknown to the MP, a photographer from The Sun was concealed in a nearby ditch.

The majority of Merchant’s friends regarded his story as being so wildly improbable as to be almost certainly true. Years later, Merchant told friends, it was confirmed by Stuart Higgins, who had been editor of The Sun at the time of the exposé.

But the tale had another twist. By the time Merchant had extracted the information from Cox, the pair had embarked on an affair. Merchant took Cox to the Tory conference in Blackpool that year, and afterwards for a two-night break in York at a discreet flat owned by his former researcher, Anthony Gilberthorpe. In fact, Merchant was about to fall victim to another tabloid sting. Gilberthorpe had been paid £25,000 by the Sunday Mirror, whose journalists had wired the flat with concealed video recorders to capture the couple’s cavortings.

After the Mirror published, the ever-loyal Helen Merchant made a toe-curling appearance on the doorstep of the family home with Merchant and Cox. The wronged wife insisted that Anna was a family friend with whom she was happy for her husband to spend his nights.

Merchant quit as an MP 48 hours later by applying to become steward of the Manor of Northstead. Though he was no longer in public life, the Sunday Mirror ran photographs from his bedroom “romp” with Cox on its front page for two further weeks. Years later, Merchant wryly remarked that not even the death of the Queen Mother had merited three consecutive front pages in the paper.

Piers Rolf Garfield Merchant was born on January 2 1951, the son of a schoolmaster. After leaving Durham University in 1973, his first job was as a reporter on the Newcastle Journal.

He contested Newcastle Central for the Tories in 1979. He stood there again in 1983 and was duly elected in the first of the Thatcher landslides. It was not natural Tory territory so it came as no surprise when he lost the seat in 1987.

He became director of public affairs at the Advertising Association. But, as a committed Thatcherite, Merchant was desperate to get back into the Commons. After being rejected by seven Tory associations, Merchant only clinched the Beckenham nomination when, in the wake of Thatcher’s political assassination by the party’s left wing, he cast notes aside and spoke from the heart.

It was during the 1992-97 parliament that his ready political skills were put to good use as PPS to Peter Lilley, the then social security secretary. After resigning his seat in 1997, Merchant went to work for the London Chamber of Commerce. When the LCC’s board announced its intention to merge with the big business organisation London First, he waged a highly effective campaign to stop it happening.

Although he was notionally part of the management team charged with driving the merger through, he utilised a series of political ploys to stretch negotiations out for two years before they finally collapsed at an acrimonious EGM.

Merchant was unfailingly good-humoured about being derided as a figure of fun by the Westminster village. He became chief executive of the United Kingdom Independence Party in 2004 and was put in charge of running its campaign in the Hartlepool by-election that year.

When the party’s star turn Robert Kilroy-Silk came to campaign in the constituency, Merchant arranged for his Jaguar to be met outside the town by a huge convoy of party and media vehicles.

The former television presenter could not have been more feted by the locals if he had been the Pope. Merchant, who had orchestrated events from beginning to end, let on to nobody that Kilroy had sent him a handwritten note the day before.

“Please do not stand within ten yards of me,” it read. “Because I’m sure you’ll understand that I do not wish to be photographed alongside you.”

Piers Merchant, who had cancer, died on September 21. He married Helen Burrluck in 1977, and is survived by her, one son and one daughter.

In accord with Piers’ view of The EU –
Write Upon Your Ballot Paper at EVERY election:
Gregg Beaman’s Blog said…
It is terribly sad. Piers will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to know him, to whatever degree. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
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