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Giulio Andreotti

Understandably, because it was but a minor episode in Giulio Andreotti's long life, in the course of his fascinating and insightful obituary (7 May), Rupert Cornwell did not refer to his brief membership of the indirectly elected European Parliament in the late 1970s, writes Tam Dalyell.

As a member of the budget sub-committee of the Parliament (equivalent to our Public Accounts Committee) I, along with the late Earl of Bessborough and Martin Bangermann (a future German European Commissioner), had been chosen to visit Friuli after the 1976 earthquake to find out if Community funds were being misappropriated (as it turned out, in our view they weren't).

I suggested to the Socialist Group that we should be accompanied by an Italian MEP. Nothing doing! The Italians weren't going to touch anything that smelled of possible corruption. So I approached the friendly chairman of the Christian Democrats: "Giulio, don't you think that you ought to send one of your group to Friuli?" Softly, he replied, "Tam, I didn't think that, to use your English expression, you were wet behind the ears." And off he shuffled with a quizzical smile. His impish good humour made him one of the great survivors.