Airey Neave DSO OBE MC MP was Member of Parliament for Abingdon from 1953 until his death at the hands of terrorists in March 1979. He was principal Opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland and one of Margaret Thatcher's closest advisers following her election as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975.
Airey Neave's career reached two quite different peaks: first as a young soldier and second as a distinguished barrister and politician. As a soldier, he was the first officer to make the 'home run' from Colditz, and the intelligence from this experience brought about his appointment to MI9, where he was code-named 'Saturday'. His book Saturday at MI9 deservedly repeated the publishing success of his story of the Colditz escape, They Have Their Exits. Using the same resourcefulness and patience which he later applied in campaigning for Margaret Thatcher's victory, he planned escapes through occupied Europe and for the remnants of the Airborne Division trapped at Arnhem.
When the War ended, he became assistant secretary of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, and had the task of serving indictments on the Nazi war leaders who had survived Hitler. Another book, Nuremberg, dealt with the part he played there.
After the War he turned to politics and, with Harwell in his constituency, he specialised in science and technology. He chaired the All-Party Select Committee on Science and Technology in the House of Commons, and the series of reports that were produced at that time were dominated by his speciality in that field - an ability to balance the need for scientific advance with concern for its effects. From 1963-71 he was a governor of Imperial College, London.
His reputation in Parliament was one of pitting himself single-handedly against apparently hopeless odds. He did not wait for the support of others before he took up a cause that he knew to be right and just. One such cause was to bring belated justice to the special prisoners of the Sachsenhausen camp, whose claim for compensation has been bureaucratically denied. There were many other causes for which he fought and won.
In the many tributes to his memory, following his assassination in 1979, the recurring theme was of his quiet and relentless courage and his determined and uncompromising opposition to terrorism.