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Piers Rolf Garfield Merchant (2 January 1951 – 21 September 2009) was a British Conservative Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle upon Tyne Central from 1983 to 1987, and then MP for Beckenham from 1992 until he resigned in October 1997 following a scandal.

Piers Merchant
Piers Merchant.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
In office
9 June 1983 – 11 June 1987
Preceded byHarry Cowans
Succeeded byJim Cousins
Member of Parliament
for Beckenham
In office
9 April 1992 – 27 October 1997
Preceded byPhilip Goodhart
Succeeded byJacqui Lait
Personal details
Born2 January 1951
Died21 September 2009
Political partyConservative, UKIP
Alma materDurham University


He was educated at Nottingham High School and the University of Durham, where he studied law and politics. He then worked for nine years at The Journal (Newcastle).[1]

Political careerEdit

Merchant was first elected to the House of Commons at the 1983 general election for the Newcastle Central constituency, but lost his seat at the June 1987 general election. He returned to parliament as the MP for Beckenham at the 1992 general election.[1]

He was caught by The Sun romancing with a teenage nightclub hostess on a park bench in south-east London.[2]

He resigned in 1997 following allegations that he was sleeping with his researcher. He later claimed that the whole affair had been set up by his one time assistant and family friend, Anthony Gilberthorpe, for a payment of £25,000 from the Sunday Mirror.[3]

In the 2004 European Parliament election, Merchant stood for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the North East England constituency at the top of its party list. He was not elected.[2] In 2005 he was the UKIP candidate for the Torrington Rural ward in the Devon County Council election, but finished fourth of the four candidates.[4]

Piers Merchant worked for some years in various capacities for UKIP, and was at one time political advisor to Roger Knapman during the 2004 European election;[citation needed] also, for a time, he acted as UKIP General Secretary.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2005, he and his family moved to Great Torrington in North Devon.

In July 2009 he was diagnosed with advanced multisite metastatic cancer[5] with a bleak prognosis. He died on 21 September 2009.


  1. ^ a b Van der Vat, Dan (23 September 2009). "Piers Merchant obituary". The Guardian. London.
  2. ^ a b c McKittrick, David (3 October 2009). "Piers Merchant: Tory MP whose career ended when he was caught having an affair with a teenage Soho nightclub hostess". The Independent. London.
  3. ^ Templeton, Tom (15 November 2003). "What happened next?". The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Torridge District Council - DCC Election Results 2005".
  5. ^ "Politics Obituaries: Piers Merchant". The Daily Telegraph. London. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2009.

External linksEdit