The extra-marital activities of Piers Merchant were not, in my opinion, the sum of the man, as your obituary (3 October) implied, writes Marilyn Duncombe. Mr Merchant was, in a short time, an exceptional local MP, and, I say this, as someone who has never voted Conservative. One of the first things he did when he was elected, was to send all the teenagers approaching the age of 18 a questionnaire, aiming to find out their views on various subjects. As a parent of two adolescents I found this impressive.
Mr Merchant was very supportive when I had a complaint against a local nursing home, who, I felt, had badly treated my father. My father was suffering from MID, which is similar to Alzheimer's disease. When, having hit a brick wall, I was close to giving up on my complaint, Mr Merchant encouraged me to continue and that led to Bromley Council making a rule that forced all nursing homes in the borough to state if they were willing or not to take in Alzheimer's patients.
I also understood that Mr Merchant was one of the very few MPs who had no outside interests (no directorships, etc), which surely was not a bad thing.