Obituary: Clive Fairweather, 68

Clive Fairweather served in Northern Ireland, the Far East and the Middle East during his time in the SAS
Clive Fairweather served in Northern Ireland, the Far East and the Middle East during his time in the SAS
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AN SAS veteran and former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland has died aged 68.

Clive Fairweather, described as one of Britain’s best–known and most colourful peacetime soldiers, was born in Edinburgh on May 21, 1944.

He attended various schools including George Heriot’s, where the headmaster, Dr William Joe, asked him to “leave early for the sake of staff and pupils”.

After school, he joined the Territorial Army and gained his wings in 15th (Scottish) Parachute Regiment before going on to train at Sandhurst.

He was banned from attending the Sandhurst Commissioning Ball because he was under close arrest, the result, he said, of “an unfortunate incident involving another cadet and a thunderflash”.

He was commissioned in 1964 into the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the following year attended Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral as a guard.

Mr Fairweather saw active service in Borneo and was involved in several firefights and ambushes against Communist guerrillas.

And in 1968 he volunteered for the Special Air Service and was one of only four officers – out of 42 – to be selected.

During his time in 22 SAS Regiment, he served in Northern Ireland, the Far East and Middle East, where he advised the Jordanian government on security matters.

He was injured in a booby trap bomb explosion in Belfast in 1972, which killed one and injured two of his comrades.

And in 1980 he was second-in-command of the dramatic SAS rescue which ended the Iranian embassy siege in London. Four years later, Fairweather was appointed commanding officer at the Scottish Infantry Depot, Glencorse, and quickly found himself having to deal with the murder of three solders shot by colleague Andrew Walker during a payroll robbery.

In 1987, he was made commanding officer of 1 King’s Own Scottish Borderers at a time when the regiment was embroiled in a scandal about bullying. Several officers and NCOs were sacked as a result. One senior officer said: “There is little doubt that Clive’s leadership saved the regiment from being disbanded.”

His last job in the military came in 1991 when he became colonel of the Scottish Division based at Edinburgh Castle. He declined promotion to brigadier in 1994 and instead took early retirement.

But he began another career after being appointed HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland, a post he held from 1994 to 2002.

For the past seven years, Clive Fairweather was chief fundraiser for ex-service personnel charity Combat Stress.

He was also a keen glider pilot, fell runner and pianist. He was awarded OBE in 1990 and CBE in 2002.

He is survived by his son Nicholas, daughters Charlotte and Amelia and his former wife Ann.

First Minister Alex Salmond was among those to pay tribute. He said: “I got to know Clive well as Chief Inspector of Prisons. He brought to the job a unique combination of humanity and common sense which demonstrated how an enlightened prison regime would operate in the public interest. I will very much miss his contribution to Scottish public life.”