Reporter 437, 24 May 1999

Obituary - Derek Fatchett

Derek Fatchett, who died suddenly of a heart attack on 9 May 1999, was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, and had been MP for Leeds Central since 1983. From 1971 to 1983 Derek was a lecturer in industrial relations in what was then the Department of Adult and Continuing Education. Derek worked first at the University’s Centre for Adult Education at Middlesbrough, successfully developing a large programme of day release courses for trade unionists in the steel industry. He then moved to Leeds where, working in a team of industrial studies lecturers, he quickly formed an effective partnership with Trevor Park, formerly a left-wing Labour MP. Trade Union work in the region developed rapidly in the 1970s, and Derek and Trevor proved a formidable negotiating team with local Trade Unions and the TUC. Leeds had a longstanding relationship with the NUM - and also with a large number of other Unions in the region particularly those in engineering, textiles and the public sector - and the Department provided, as the School of Continuing Education continues to, high quality programmes in industrial studies work for trade unionists.

Derek wrote and co-wrote several pamphlets and books around the subject of worker involvement and participation. This exemplifies his commitment to industrial democracy and the wider emancipation industrially and politically of working people. Derek combined his work as an adult educator with Labour Movement activity, particularly as a Labour Councillor in Wakefield. It came as no surpirse when he was selected for the safe, new Parliamentary constituency of Leeds Central and was elected, in a bad year for Labour, in the General Election of 1983. Since then of course he had become a very successful Minister, following shadow ministerial appointments. At the time of his unexpected and tragic death, Derek was deeply engaged in the Balkan crisis and, as his obituaries indicated, was widely thought to be a likely future Cabinet Minister.

His very well attended and moving funeral at Leeds Parish Church on 14 May was testimony to the respect and affection with which he was regarded in his constituency, not least by members of the minority ethnic communities.

Dick Taylor, Continuing Education

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