SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: In loving memory

Last years Holocaust Memorial Day service in Worthing
Last years Holocaust Memorial Day service in Worthing

The dominant feeling for me this week is memorial. At the end of this article I give a brief reflection on differences of view, using as examples the Aquarena question and the Supreme Court judgment about leaving the European Union. Separation of powers matters. Media and courts should not be controlled by government.

On Tuesday in London I went for an early morning discussion with IPSO, the proper independent press standards body. We rely on the mainstream media for curated news and for a variety of views. I take the word curated as a description of the editorial process. As far as possible, what we read should be new, true, important or interesting.

Remember that when an open society is closing down, the first casualties include journalists, editors and publishers. Each year, we are told how many media people have died or been imprisoned for carrying out their job. There are risks in war zones; there are as many risks under totalitarian regimes. I shall back the serious press against having to accept the bullying intentions of the Hacked Off campaigners; they may argue that making a newspaper pay the high costs of an unjustified complaint is just encouragement to accept the first step towards state control. I disagree and I shall continue to do so.

This Friday marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), the annual event which encourages us to pause and to remember the millions of people whose lives have ended and the lives that been changed by genocide. The Holocaust and Nazi persecution sadly was followed by genocides in Srebrenica when 8,000 Bosniak boys and men were killed, in Cambodia where millions were killed, and elsewhere. We and future generations have to keep the lessons of the past in mind, trying to ensure such tragedies are not repeated.

In Worthing, there will again be the memorial meeting on Friday. I attend a HMD memorial in Westminster the day before, after signing the Parliamentary Memorial Book. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website – www.hmd.org.uk – offers extensive unbiased information on past and present genocides.

Memories at memorial services after the death of an old friend are different. This Wednesday I celebrate the life and contributions of a cousin Sir Robin Chichester-Clark who was the last Unionist Member of Parliament from Northern Ireland to serve as a UK government minister. Oddly his post as Minster for Employment was one I held 14 years later, before I served in the Province as minister for agriculture and environment.

On Friday in Chichester Cathedral there will be the celebration of the life of Hazel Treadgold. Her husband John had been the admired Dean. She and I came to know and to like each other when she led the Mothers Union. I was a member too. We cooperated when Archbishop Robert Runcie was being unfairly attacked.

Changing subject, these are my reflections on difference. The Supreme Court have given their decision by eight to three that an Act of Parliament is needed before the British government writes the EU Article 50 letter. I would have sided with the reasons of the minority. The majority won.

On the Aquarena issue, the Secretary of State had advised that if the development application were approved, he could decide to call it in. I think he should, for three main reasons. One is that a large prominent building will dominate the views to the east from the centre of Worthing and from the pier. The second is that it is a council site; an outside opinion is justified. The third is that a large collection of apartments need good public transport. That is available by the station.

The Secretary of State can decide whether to call it in. If he does, the final decision will be after hearing the pros and cons. That is fair.

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