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Eric Forth

I agree with the generally benign judgement of Eric Forth [obituary by Michael Brown, 20 May] as robust but amiable, and, in the comforting phrase, "a rough diamond", writes Edward Pearce. He was, genuinely enjoyable company. But there was too a streak of savagery.

It was Forth who, in the early 1990s, said to me, "Of course the South Africans should have hanged Nelson Mandela." It was not a casual remark, made to shock. The context was lethal; Mandela had come very close to that fate in 1961 at the end of the Rivonia treason trial. I put it to the MP, McEnroe-style, that he could not be serious. He assured me that he was so entirely, and confirmed this when it came up again in conversation many months later.

A rough diamond indeed, able to cut pretty nastily.