Lords pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

09 December 2013

The House of Lords paid tribute on 9 December to Nelson Mandela, the former South African leader, who died in Johannesburg on 5 December

The Leader of the House, Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative), led the tributes, followed by the Leader of the Opposition, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Labour).

Lord Wallace of Tankerness (Liberal Democrat), Lord Laming (Crossbench) and the Bishop of Truro also spoke, ahead of contributions from other members.

Lord Joffe (Labour), who defended Mr Mandela at the Rivonia Trial in 1964, recalled how lawyers advised the deletion of the 'prepared to die' sentence from Mandela’s statement in court, 'because it could be construed by the judge as an invitation to hang him.'

'His response to our advice was that it was necessary for him to make that declaration, so that his people would understand that no sacrifice was too great in the battle for freedom. This would inspire them to carry on the battle when he was no longer there to lead them.'

Mr Mandela led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, spending 27 years in prison before his release in 1990. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 before being elected his country’s first black president in 1994.

On 11 July 1996, he addressed members of both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. In April 2007, a statue of Mr Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square by the then prime minister Gordon Brown MP. Mr Mandela attended the ceremony.

The Lord Speaker's statement

Following the announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela, the Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, commented:

'I spent a number of years in the late 1980s in South Africa working in the townships and Bantustans. I never had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela as throughout my time there he was in prison. However, despite his long detention, his leadership and moral courage was an inspiration to those I was working with and to all those fighting for equality and the sanctity of human rights. As the leader of post-apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela was a global statesman who set the standard for principled politics in a country riven by a legacy of injustice. The loss of Nelson Mandela will, of course, bring great sadness to his friends and family and will be keenly felt in South Africa and throughout the world.'

Further information

Image: PA

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