Obituary: Geraint Morgan

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The Independent Online
William Geraint Oliver Morgan, lawyer, politician: born Liverpool 20 November 1920; called to the Bar, Gray's Inn 1947; MP (Conservative) for Denbigh 1959-83; QC 1971; married 1957 Joan Maxwell (two sons, two daughters); died Barrow 2 July 1995.

To be a Conservative and Welsh is to be a member of a minority. To be a Conservative, Welsh and Welsh-speaking is a rarity. Geraint Morgan was such a man. He upheld both the political and cultural traditions which mark out a shrinking segment of contemporary Wales.

Morgan served as MP for the old Denbigh constituency from 1959 to 1983, when boundary changes precipitated a row of unusual proportions inside the Conservative Party. Months of internecine warfare over the selection of a candidate to fight the new Clwyd North-West seat memorably came to a head on 10 May 1983 when party members packed the Kinmel Manor Hotel, a discreet hostelry near Colwyn Bay. In a three-way clash, Sir Anthony Meyer was preferred over Ms Beata Brookes (known as the "Celtic Iron Lady") and Morgan, whose claim to be considered for nomination was ruled out of order. As he left the hotel he said with customary dignity: "I don't mind being beaten as long as I am beaten fairly."

Fairness was central to his beliefs. Although not the most frequent of speakers in the Commons, his commitment to the North Wales constituency was unswerving - and totally fair to those he represented. He answered letters from Welsh-speakers in Welsh - and in his own meticulous handwriting. There were triumphs too small to register on the Westminster scale which were of importance to his constituents. Many householders living near the A55 - a road designated "a highway of opportunity" - thanked him for the compensation they received when the road was upgraded.

His surgeries were often held in the august setting of Denbigh's 18th- century town hall and were notable for the close attention paid to constituents' needs. He was a fierce opponent of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a supporter of capital punishment.

Born in Liverpool, he read law at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, later moving to Trinity College, Cambridge, and then to London University. When the war intervened he joined the Royal Marines and was demobilised in 1945 with the rank of major.

Called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1947, Morgan cut his political teeth when he unsuccessfully contested Merioneth as a Conservative in the 1951 election. He stood - again unsuccessfully - in Harold Wilson's Huyton seat in 1955. He was elected MP for Denbigh in 1959 as a National Liberal and Conservative candidate - a designation applied to candidates representing a coalition of the National Liberals of 1931 and the Conservative Party. He was successful again in 1964 standing as a Conservative - a party he supported until the 1983 rumpus.

Shortly after the row he resigned from the party and began supporting Welsh nationalism, although he never became a member of Plaid Cymru. He urged support for Dafydd Elis-Thomas (now Lord Elis-Thomas), the Plaid Cymru candidate in the 1989 European elections.

Morgan's legal experience - he was a Crown Court Recorder and served on the Northern Circuit - was widely recognised. He was a member of the Lord Chancellor's Committee on the Recovery of Judgment Debts for four years from 1965 and gave sterling service as a member of the Investiture Committee of the Prince of Wales in 1968-69. A man of letters as well as the law, he was inducted a member of the Royal National Eisteddfod's Gorsedd of Bards in 1969.