Lord Mayhew, key figure in Northern Ireland peace process, dies aged 86


Former Conservative Cabinet minister Lord Mayhew, who served as attorney general and Northern Ireland secretary during critical moments for both posts, has died at the age of 86, his family said today.

In a statement, his family said he died peacefully at his home in Kent on Saturday, adding: "He had lived with cancer and Parkinson's for several years. He worked hard for peace in Northern Ireland."

Sir Patrick Mayhew (centre)
(Brian Little/PA)

Lord (Patrick) Mayhew of Twysden was a key figure in the December 1993 Downing Street Declaration, formulated by then prime minister John Major and then Irish taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, which led to the IRA ceasefire the following September.

As solicitor-general in January 1986 he was a key player in the Westland crisis which briefly threatened to endanger the position of then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Lord Mayhew was seen as more at home on the liberal wing of the Tory party.

He is survived by his wife Jean Mayhew, their four sons and their families.

The ex-Cabinet minister was at the eye of the storm again during the Spycatcher affair when he attempted to block the publication of former MI5 agent Peter Wright's memoirs for the Thatcher government.

He was also angrily accused by Irish politicians of being behind the decision not to prosecute Royal Ulster Constabulary officers implicated by the Stalker affair.

Sir Patrick Mayhew in 1995.
(Adam Butler/PA)

Communities Secretary Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, said the peer would be "deeply missed".

"Patrick Mayhew, an outstanding MP for Tunbridge Wells, former Sec of State and friend has died. Much loved and respected, will be deeply missed," he said.