SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Love that led to death and sainthood?

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

When seeing parents with their children at a nursery school and grandparents entertaining teenage grandchildren at half-term, I see the family commitment that illustrates that what we live for is also what we are prepared to die for.

This week I have been seeking an inquiry into the terrible treatment of the former Police Sergeant, now councillor, Gurpal Virdi.

The Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have explaining to do. His fight against historic racism and discrimination in the police is recorded in his book Behind The Blue Line.

The first sentence of the foreword I contributed reads: “When speaking about the police, what comes most to mind are stories of reliability, calm bravery and dedicated individuals.”

They included PC Keith Fletcher, the parliamentary police officer who gave his life tackling the maniacal attacker a year ago.

I have joined a Labour MP in calling for the gates to be given his name as a lasting memorial.

Policewomen and policemen deserve memorials equivalent to those they defend.

In every part of the constituency, police attend blue light calls not knowing whether tragedy or danger will greet them.

At road traffic crashes they may have to aid the injured before paramedics attend.

In the past few days I met a man I first encountered 40 years ago in El Salvador.

Ruben Zamora has been a social democratic activist, ambassador and humble presidential candidate in his troubled country.

His brother Mario, while Attorney General, was assassinated.

Ruben, like Oscar Romero, faced death.

Ruben led our discussion on the life and legacy of the Blessed Archbishop Romero.

Bianca Jagger talked of her human rights work.

I remembered Romero’s reply when I asked how he viewed prospective martyrdom: “We can agree that worse things happened to better people than us?”

On Wednesday I joined the gathering of Lords and Commons branch of the RAF Association to recognise 100 years of the Royal Air Force.

From the club in Tarring to the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Princess Marina House in Rustington, we have many links to the RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces.

George Harris died this week at 95. He was one of the last of the Bomber Command pilots.

In operations, his life expectancy was six weeks.

He survived many scrapes, engine fires and 30 operations over enemy territory, all by the age of 21.

He and his bride accepted that the marriage might be short.

The love of country, the love of family and the willingness to face danger while protecting others should be recognised.

I am named after the apostle Peter who got many things wrong before accepting his historic responsibilities.

Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.

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