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Ex-Tory MP Sir Peter Fry dies

Published 16/05/2015

Sir Peter Fry was a Tory MP for Wellingborough
Sir Peter Fry was a Tory MP for Wellingborough

Sir Peter Fry, who was the Conservative MP for Wellingborough for 28 years, has died at the aged of 83.

He won the seat in a by-election in 1969 and held it until he lost it by 187 votes in 1997. That election was also marred by Sir Peter having a heart attack during the campaign. He blamed his defeat on Ukip intervening to poll 1,192 votes.

Peter Bone, the current Conservative MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, said that Sir Peter was still "highly-regarded" by voters as he campaigned in this month's general election.

This was even though Sir Peter had been out of the political spotlight for some time and had been ill for the past year.

Mr Bone said: "He was extremely well thought of. When I was canvassing in the last election people were still talking about him. They absolutely loved how he helped them and he was a highly-regarded local MP.

"He stood up for what was right rather than what the party line was. In those days (the John Major years) it was much more difficult to stand up against the party machine. He had strong views on Europe."

Sir Peter, who became known as a transport expert, had started his career as an insurance broker and in his family retail business.

He joined the Wycombe Young Conservatives in 1949 and the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1951 and went on to become a Conservative councillor on Buckinghamshire County Council between 1961 and 1967.

He took on the chairmanship of the Commons' all-party Footwear and Leather Group, perhaps in light of the dominance of the local industry at the time.

He became an imposing figure on the backbenches but spoke little on national issues.

Councillor Barry Graves, the Mayor elect for Wellingborough, remembers Sir Peter as a "very strong constituency MP".

Mr Graves said: "I remember going out and canvassing with him and he would go everywhere. He knew the area and the people. He was very much a man of the local constituency.

"He survived through all the vicissitudes because he was able to go out and get the personal vote.

"He did a lot of work and was just very approachable."

A knighthood came in 1994 but the ending of Sir Peter's life in Westminster politics as an MP in 1997 did not end his activism.

He chaired the parish council in Cranford where he lived, and helped set up the Stop the Over-development of Northamptonshire pressure group in 2003.

He also became the chairman of the Bingo Association and chairman of the Federation of European Bingo Associations, and a trustee of the Responsibility in Gambling Trust.

His first marriage to Edna Roberts ended in divorce and he married Helen Mitchell in 1982.

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