UK Politics

Former Attorney General Lord Lyell dies aged 71

Lord Lyell
Image caption Lord Lyell survived the controversy over the Matrix Churchill trial

Former Attorney General Lord Lyell has died, aged 71, his family has said.

As Sir Nicholas Lyell, he was appointed solicitor general in 1987 and was made the government's top law officer by Prime Minister John Major in 1992.

The 1996 Scott Report criticised him for trying to obtain a "gagging order" to prevent the disclosure of secret documents during the Matrix Churchill arms-for-Iraq trial.

His family said he died peacefully after living for 12 years with cancer.

Despite the Matrix Churchill controversy, Mr Major stood by his attorney general who remained in office until 1997.

'With family'

The documents showed the machine tool manufacturer was working for British secret services when it supplied non-lethal material to Saddam Hussein.

Lord Lyell was first elected to Parliament in the Conservative landslide of 1979, when he won Hemel Hempstead from Labour.

He later represented Mid-Bedfordshire from 1983 and North-East Bedfordshire from 1997 until he retired from the House of Commons in 2001.

Lord Lyell was shadow attorney general in opposition under William Hague from 1997-99 and was created Baron Lyell of Markyate in 2005, sitting on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.

He was married with two sons and two daughters.

Lord Lyell's widow Susanna said: "He died peacefully, after living so vigorously with cancer for the last 12 years. His family were all with him."