Peter Fraser: Obituary

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The Independent Online
Peter Fraser embraced throughout his life a great sense of internationalism to which he applied all his energy. His life's work in the Foreign Office and at the Western European Union consolidated his belief in a wider international self.

Fraser was born in 1920, two years after the end of the First World War. He was the only son of Sir Francis Fraser, a distinguished physician and Professor of Medicine at London University, St Bartholomew's Hospital and later the British Postgraduate Medical School. Fraser remembered his early life with much affection and recalled that all elements at school, home, neighbours and even table manners had the kind of Edwardian feel so vividly portrayed in Upstairs Downstairs. The early years in his Victorian home in Finchley, north London, were full of mischief and activity.

After schooldays at Sherborne School, he finished his education at Zurich and Cambridge universities. His degree in Modern Languages, interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, was to dictate in time his lifelong dedication to the world of international politics which he loved. During the war he served in the Scots Guards as Intelligence Officer in the 6th Guards Brigade and was then transferred to French Army HQ and assumed consular duties in Strasbourg until demobilisation in 1946.

He immediately joined the Foreign Office, where the then Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, asked him to join the Brussels Treaty Organisation, which administered the alliance between Britain, France and the Benelux countries; from 1952 onwards he served as its Deputy Secretary General. In 1955 the Western European Union was established as a consultative forum for defence issues among Western European governments, and Fraser was duly appointed Assistant Secretary General. Subsequently, in 1956, he became Secretary- General of the Saar Commission, the commission which supervised the transfer of the Saarland back to West German rule. Fraser's outstanding organisational ability, his passion for a new challenge, his clear and concise reports on complex issues and meetings, his approach to his staff in handling personal problems, earned him confidence and respect from his colleagues.

Despite his international outlook, Fraser was, however, always drawn to his deep Scottish roots and his beloved Scotland, whether it be admiring the glens and brooks of the countryside or cheering the Scottish rugby team.

His hobby was fly-fishing and, despite his desire for an orderly and comfortable existence, he would stand for hours waist deep in the freezing Scottish lochs or rivers, coaxing and catching the elusive salmon or trout. As with everything, he demonstrated a single-minded passion for the sport which resulted in many a good day's catch in the worst of conditions. It was this irresistible combination of enthusiasm which made both the man and his life a story everyone he met loved to hear.

Fraser was well liked and, with his extraordinary depth of knowledge and culture and his easy-going manner, he aroused interest in all who knew him. He had the ability to create a real sense of drama and romance in a world full of frustrations and one never left his company without feeling up-beat and with a new perspective on life.

Peter Basil Fraser, diplomat: born 21 December 1920; married 1956 Jennifer Burnier ( two sons, one daughter; marriage dissolved); died London 10 August 1996.

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