RIP Sir Ludovic Kennedy

by Stephen Tall on October 19, 2009

The BBC reports:

The author, broadcaster and campaigner Sir Ludovic Kennedy has died aged 89. A former BBC Panorama journalist, Sir Ludovic spent decades investigating miscarriages of justice, including the case of the Birmingham Six. He contributed to the abolition of the death penalty and was also president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Nick Clegg has joined in the tributes to Sir Ludovic, a member of the Liberal party and later the Lib Dems, for most of his life:

Ludovic Kennedy was one of the great thinkers of his generation. His pursuit of justice and his championing of sometimes unpopular and controversial causes marked him out as a true liberal. He will be greatly missed.”

Sir Ludovic was the Liberal candidate and runner-up in the 1958 Rochdale by-election, propelling the party to its highest vote in the constituency since the 1920s, with the Tories pushed from first to third place. It was the first UK election to feature televised debates between the candidates, with Granada also broadcasting the count – another first.

He quit the Lib Dems in 2001 in protest at Charles Kennedy’s refusal to countenance legalised euthanasia, even standing as an independent candidate for the cause in Devizes, Wiltshire, polling just over 1,000 votes. He later re-joined the party.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Sir Ludovic gained fame among a new generation (such as myself) through his appearances as himself in the superior BBC comedy programme, Yes, Minister, as well as his interviews with Peter Cook, playing Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, for A Life in Pieces. Here’s the first programme from that fantastic series, first broadcast in December 1990: