LORD Bonham-Carter, the Liberal Democrat peer and first chairman of the Race Relations Board, has died suddenly while on holiday with his family in southern Italy. He was 72.
A Liberal almost by birth, Lord Bonham-Carter was the grandson of Herbert Asquith, Liberal Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916, and son of Violet Bonham-Carter. He was the uncle of the actress Helena Bonham-Carter.
Turning to politics after war service in the Grenadier Guards, Lord Bonham-Carter was MP for Torrington in 1958-59 after winning a famous by-election. He chaired the Race Relations Board from 1966 to 1970 and the Community Relations Commission in 1971-77.
Made a life peer by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, he became a party spokesman on overseas development and foreign affairs. He was also a former vice-chairman and governor of the BBC, a director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for 24 years, and chairman of the governors of the Royal Ballet.
Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: 'Mark Bonham-Carter's sudden death is a grievous blow to all who shared his passionate convictions. It was Mark's historic by-election at Torrington which marked a crucial turning point for post- war Liberalism.'
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