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Tributes to former Essex MP

06:23 11 October 2003

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a former long-serving Essex MP, probably equally well-known for his colourful personal life as his political career.

Sir Antony Buck, who has died at the age of 74, served as Tory MP for Colchester and Colchester North from 1961 until 1992 and will be remembered with a great deal of affection in the town.

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a former long-serving Essex MP, probably equally well-known for his colourful personal life as his political career.

Sir Antony Buck, who has died at the age of 74, served as Tory MP for Colchester and Colchester North from 1961 until 1992 and will be remembered with a great deal of affection in the town.

However, it was more recent events which thrust him firmly in the public eye, namely his messy divorce from his second wife Bienvenida. They split after her alleged affair with Sir Peter Harding, the Chief Of Defence Staff, who later resigned.

Yesterday Bernard Jenkin, Conservative Essex North MP, said with him and his predecessor Lord Alport now gone it was “the end of an era”.

He said: “When I first arrived in Colchester as the new candidate he was incredibly well known and everyone said 'I know Mr Buck', even though he'd been Sir Antony for years and years.

“I expect I was a thorn in his flesh because he hated the idea of retirement and loved being MP for Colchester North.

“He did get in some scrapes but he will be remembered fundamentally as a good man who looked after his constituents.”

Neil Stock, chairman of both the Colchester Conservative Association and the North Essex Conservative Association, remembers hearing many stories about Sir Antony's legendary exploits.

“He was very well-respected man in Parliament, very much of the old school representing a different era and he will be greatly missed by people in Colchester.

“A lot of members still remember him being elected in the 1960s and they will be very sad to see him go.

“His picture still hangs in the Conservative Club in Colchester High Street where he was patron and apparently every Saturday he used to walk round there with chips in a bowl, giving them out while he talked to people about local politics.”

Sir Antony's political career began as a student when he was elected chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students.

He was educated at Kings School, Ely, before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge to study history and law. After graduating, he read for the Bar and became a Queen's Counsel in 1974.

After Lord Alport was created a life peer, Sir Antony became Colchester's MP in a by-election in 1961. He held the seat until 1983 and the newly-created Colchester North seat until 1992.

The MP was a Navy minister in Edward Heath's Government in the early 1970s and chairman of the Tory Party Defence Committee. Later, he also had a heavy Parliamentary workload as chairman of the Ombudsman Committee and an executive member of the 1922 Committee.

His 34-year marriage to Judy Grant, which produced a daughter Louisa, ended in divorce and in 1990 Sir Antony married Spanish-born fashion designer Bienvenida Perez-Bianco, 30 years his junior.

However, that marriage also ended in divorce a few years later amid the full glare of publicity when Sir Antony accused her of infidelity with the Chief Of Defence Staff. The ex-Lady Buck then told her side of the story to the tabloids.

In 1994 he married his third wife Tamara Norashkaryan, a Russian-born diplomat's widow who tracked him down after seeing a picture of him and his pet dogs in an article detailing his divorce from his second wife.

Sir Antony died in London on Monday and a funeral service is expected to be held next week.

Sharon.Asplin@eadt.co.uk

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