‘Despite his reputation as a womaniser and fondness for malt whisky, a daily habit that brought about his premature death aged just 61, the funeral of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in 1995 was marked by an outpouring of respect and admiration.
As more than 1,000 luminaries crammed into St John’s Kirk in Perth, the former Tory MP’s significance as a political figure was underlined by the presence of Lady Thatcher, who had promoted the brilliant solicitor to her first Cabinet in 1979.
While a lone Scottish piper played a lament, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister strode solemnly to the pulpit to read an excerpt from The Prophet, a book by the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who had been one of Fairbairn’s favourite authors.
Her tribute was witnessed by a host of leading politicians, judges, and Scottish aristocrats of the day.
They had come to pay respects to a uniquely colourful individual who, in a political career spanning two decades, had achieved a mixture of fame and notoriety as one the most recognisable — but also controversial — members of the Commons.’