Brynle Williams, Tory AM and fuel protest leader, dies

Long serving assembly member for North Wales Brynle Williams has died at the age of 62.

Mr Williams came to public prominence as the farmer who led the fuel protests in September 2000.

He had been a Conservative AM since 2003 and rural affairs spokesman.

David Cameron described him as a "straight talker and a great loss to the assembly and to Wales". First Minister Carwyn Jones said he was "colourful" and a "tough battler".

Welsh Tory assembly leader Nick Bourne said Mr Williams was "immensely popular" across all parties.

Born in Cilcain near Mold, Flintshire, Mr Williams is survived by his wife Mary and a son and daughter.

A sheep and cattle farmer, Mr Williams was an expert in Welsh cobs and a member of the council of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society.

In the 2000 fuel protests, he rose to prominence as a spokesman for farmers protesting at the Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

The group picketed the site for seven days and the action sparked similar protests at oil sites around the UK.

The protests were not his first experience of direct action in pursuit of the farming lobby.

He was a leading campaigner at the 1997 protest against the importation of beef at Holyhead.

Speaking in Swansea, the prime minister paid tribute to Mr Williams as "a giant of a man in all senses of the word" and as someone "with a huge passion".

The party's assembly leader, Nick Bourne said: "He was a big man in every sense, immensely popular with colleagues across the assembly chamber.

"He was immensely proud of Wales and Britain and of the assembly, and just loved being there.

'Honourable and decent'

"He had a direct line to rural Wales. He was a very proud countryman, he was passionate about country life, he was passionate about the Welsh language."

Mr Bourne said he felt the assembly would be a "poorer" place without his colleague.

"It is immensely sad. He was very much a unique figure in Welsh politics," he added.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said he was "deeply saddened".

"He was a colourful character on the Welsh political scene and a tough battler and campaigner for the things about which he was passionate," said Mr Jones.

"He will be remembered by his assembly colleagues across the political spectrum with great affection. My thoughts and sympathies are with his family on this sad day."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Brynle's passing will be a matter of great sadness across all political parties.

"I will remember his infectious enthusiasm as an AM and as a thoroughly honourable and decent man.

"He was an exemplar of a man who represented his community in the national assembly and made a great contribution to ensuring that the people of the north east in particular felt a part of Wales' developing democracy."

'Farming issues'

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams called Mr Williams a "warm and genuine character," and a "strong advocate for rural Wales and the farming industry".

"I will always remember the Valentine's night when my husband and I were in Cardiff after an international rugby match and seeking a romantic dinner for two.

"Brynle, who was with his wife, Mary, spotted us and decided to join us. The two husbands then spent the entire evening locked in a discussion on farming issues. Neither Mary nor I had the Valentine's evening we had planned for."

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