Former UK minister Cecil Parkinson dies of cancer at age 84.

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2016 12:39 PM
Former UK minister Cecil Parkinson dies of cancer at age 84.

LONDON (AP) — Cecil Parkinson, who held senior posts in the British government under Margaret Thatcher until forced to resign amid a sex scandal, has died. He was 84.

Parkinson's family said he died Friday after a long battle with cancer.

Parkinson managed the Conservative Party's successful 1983 election campaign. After a landslide victory, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher considered elevating him to foreign secretary or chancellor of the Treasury.

His chances of holding such high office ended a day after the election, when — according to her memoirs — Thatcher received a letter from Col. Hastings Keays, saying his daughter was in a long-time affair with Parkinson and was pregnant.

According to Thatcher's biographer, Charles Moore, her initial response to Parkinson was: "What's that got to do with anything?"

But the door to high office had closed. He was instead put in charge of the trade and industry department, and resigned a few months later when the affair became public.

Sara Keays claimed that Parkinson had promised to marry her, and had pressured her to have an abortion, but she refused.

Thatcher brought him back to the Cabinet four years later but by then his career had peaked and was widely viewed as in decline.

Prime Minister David Cameron praised Parkinson as a "man of huge ability" who played an important role during the Thatcher era.

"He was someone I really enjoyed working with a great deal," Cameron said. "He was part of a great political generation that did really extraordinary things for our country."

Parkinson served in the House of Lords until he retired last year after he became ill.

He began his career in Parliament in 1970 and also had a successful career in business.

Parkinson is survived by his wife, Ann; their three daughters and his daughter by Sara Keays.