Obituary: Brian Stewart, 93

Brian Stewart meets Princes Charles. Picture: Getty
Brian Stewart meets Princes Charles. Picture: Getty
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Brian Stewart led a daring and valiant life but his service to his country was total and his loyalty was unquestioning.

Born in Edinburgh on April 27, 1922, he was a spy for more than 20 years and Britain’s representative in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. From there he supplied crucial information not only to London but also, on occasions, to Washington.

He was one of MI6’s foremost officers who experienced frontline service and gained clandestine expertise in the Far East.

Although he spent many years abroad, Brian remained a staunch Scot. His son, Rory, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border, said: “Dad never lost his love of Scotland. When he was consul-general in Shanghai he taught the embassy staff and the KGB officer the Eightsome Reel.

“The KGB officer asked dad, ‘Is this a dance for the aristocracy or the peasants?’. Dad replied without a blink, ‘In Scotland we don’t have such divisions’.

“He wore tartan trews every day in Crieff and played records of pipe music. He was a tremendous father and much respected by colleagues and friends.”

Brian Thomas Webster Stewart, who died on August 16, aged 93, was the son of Redvers and Mabel Stewart.

His father was a jute merchant who lived and worked in Calcutta for half a century until Partition in 1947.

Brian seldom saw his father and was brought up by an aunt in Kirriemuir, Angus. He attended Glenalmond College where he played the drums in the school pipe band, and read politics, philosophy and economics at Worcester College, Oxford.

On the outbreak of war he joined the Tyneside Scottish regiment and was among the 12 D-Day veterans to have their portrait painted for an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in London where he was photographed with Prince Charles.

He published several books including an inquiry into spying, Why Spy?, and All Men’s Wisdom.

Brian retired to his beloved home in Crieff where he took much pleasure in planting trees and painting.