Former Tory leader on Edinburgh council dies

Paul Martin
Paul Martin
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a colourful former leader of Edinburgh’s Tory group who has died, aged 58.

Paul Martin was just 21 when he was elected to Edinburgh District Council in 1980 to represent his home area of Craigentinny.

Within three years he had become chair of the council’s recreation committee and after the Tories lost power in 1984 he became the youngest ever leader of the party’s group at the City Chambers.

And former colleagues today recalled a talented politician who “led from the front”.

Mr Martin remained a councillor for 12 years, stepping down in 1992. He switched to Dean ward in 1988 and his father Charles was elected in his place in Craigentinny.

Former fellow councillor Lindsay Walls said: “They were very proud that for as long as the ward existed on its then boundaries it was represented by their family.

“Paul was a very astute politician and an extremely clever man. He had a very good grip on local and national politics.

“But behind it all was an extremely amusing person with a terrific sense of humour and a bon viveur. He had a lot of oomph about him and he was able to muster his troops and do it with a great deal of panache.”

He stood for parliament in Edinburgh East in 1983 and Edinburgh Central in 1992.

After leaving the council, Mr Martin moved to London and became an adviser to the Ministry of Defence. But he was suspended in 1994 after Sunday newspaper allegations he was involved in a “gay love triangle”.

And three years later he was at the centre of another sex scandal when he was linked with the then-Scottish Tory chairman Sir Michael Hirst.

Mr Martin went on to work for a string of organisations including water industry watchdog Ofwat, Thames Water, the Timber Trade Federation and the Railway Forum.

Friend and former councillor Ian Hoy praised Mr Martin’s “aggressive” style of opposition.

He said: “He was never one to baulk at a fight. After Labour swept to power on the council in 1984 a lot of people got a bit scared, but Paul just took them on and led from the front. That reinvigorated the Tory group.

“He was always rather proud that he was regarded as the best dressed man in the council – he was always immaculate in his suits and ties and shirts.

“And he was 100 per cent Edinburgh and quite an expert on architecture and the history of the New Town.”

Mr Martin had lived in Warwickshire for many years before his death. His funeral is at Seafield crematorium at 2pm on Friday.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com