Veteran radical dies in London


Lord Soper, the veteran British Labour peer and Methodist campaigner, died at his London home yesterday after a long period of illness. He had just returned from hospital after being treated for a serious chest infection.

A spokeswoman for the Methodist Church said that the 95-year-old peer, famous for preaching at Hyde Park Corner and Tower Hill, returned home and sat in his favourite chair before dying peacefully.

Lord Soper, who was known for supporting radical causes including The League Against Cruel Sports, which he served as president, leaves four daughters, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, said: "Lord Soper was a fine Christian and a man of great integrity and principle. He spoke with both passion and conviction and won the respect of many, many people, even those who did not always agree with what he had to say.

"He will be remembered for his formidable oratory, his sincere beliefs as a Christian socialist and his powerful contributions to the national debate."

Mr Chris Bryant, chairman of the Christian Socialist Movement, of which Lord Soper was a cofounder and president up to his death, said: "Donald was one of the greatest Christians that Britain produced in the 20th century. He had a wicked sense of humour and as co-founder of the Christian Socialist Movement was a great inspiration and will be greatly missed."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, was "greatly saddened" by the death of Lord Soper.

Dr Carey said: "Donald's contribution to Methodism and British Christianity has been outstanding. As a teacher, prophet, evangelist and social reformer he stood firmly within the Methodist tradition, but his gifts have endowed us all.