David Alton

on Friday, 31 August 2012. Posted in Patrons

David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and is now an Independent Crossbench Peer.

He began his career as a teacher and, in 1972, was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain's youngest City Councillor. He went on to become the youngest member of the House of Commons in 1979 and, in 1997, was made a Life Peer of the House of Lords.

David has since emerged as one of the world's leading campaigners on human rights and religious freedoms. He is Patron of the Academy's humanitarian work, which seeks to raise awareness and engage a new generation of young people in making a difference to lives of some of the world's most vulnerable children and adults.

DETAILED HISTORY

1987 – Appointed Liberal-SDP Alliance Spokesman for Northern Ireland, until 1988. In the same year he helped to found Jubilee Campaign – an inter-denominational Christian human rights pressure group lobbying Parliamentarians and governments for persecuted Christians and children's rights world-wide.

1989 – Brought together the Epiphany Group and published The Westminster Declaration, which led to the formation of the Movement for Christian Democracy.

1995 – Became the founding co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Street Children.

1996 – Made a Visiting Fellow of St. Andrews University.

1997 – Appointed Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University and founded the Foundation for Citizenship. In the same year he was created the youngest life peer and opted to sit as an independent Crossbencher, having left the Liberal Democrats over pro-life issues.

1998 – Became the Chairman and non-executive Director of the Banner Ethical Investment Fund.

1999 – Appointed to the Catholic Bishops' Conference Bioethics Commission of England and Wales.

2000 – Visited Moscow in September on behalf of the St Francis & St Sergius Trust (now renamed Partners in Hope) to visit street children projects.

Led the campaign to free James Mawdsley, who was in prison in Burma for distributing pro-democracy leaflets. Initiative a further debate about Burma in the House of Lords.

2001 – One of the leading campaigners within Parliament seeking to thwart the Government's attempts to legalise "therapeutic cloning". Invited to give oral evidence in November 2001 to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research.

2002 – Made a visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia, and wrote a report on the situation there. Visited the south of Sudan, subsequently producing a report, and initiated a House of Lords debate on the situation there.

Appointed a Board Member of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy in Washington DC.

Made a Kinght of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George.

Made a visit to Birmingham, Alabama, to make 16 programmes for EWTN on the subject of the Suffering Church. Initiated a debate and a campaign on the trafficking of children.

2003 – Visited the Burma border, Laos and Vietnam in January, and published reports on issues of human rights and religious liberties there. Initiated a debate on North Korea in the House of Lords. Visited North Korea with Baroness Cox, raised human rights and security issues, and published a report on the situation there.

2004 – Visited the favellas of Brazil and published a report on the killing of street children. Later launched the web site www.stopkillingchildren.com. Elected founding Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on North Korea. On behalf of Jubilee Action visited Congo, Rwanda, and Darfur and published reports on his findings. Hosted a visit oby His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Liverpool John Moores University. Presented with The Good Samaritan Award by Advocates International, in Washington.

2005 – Co-founded the Jedidiah Foundation (for the Congo); appeared before a Congressional Committee chaired by congressman Chris Smith to give evidence on the imprisonment, trafficking and use of violence against street children. Hosted hearings at Westminster on the abuse of human rights in North Korea and Burma. With Martin Foley, published new books on euthanasia and abortion. Following the bombings of July 7, he initiated a "Learning To Live Together" mini-lecture series in Liverpool, addressed by key figures from the great faiths, including Sheik Dr.Zaki Badawi and Rabbi Herschel Gluck.

2006-12 He has continued to host the Roscoe Lecture Series; has travelled to, and produced reports about, the situation in Tibet, North Korea, Southern Sudan, and following a visit to India raised the plight of India's Dalits. In recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty, in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI created him a Knight Commander of St.Gregory. Throughout 2008, he vigorously opposed legislation permitting further experimentation on human embryos, including animal-human hybrid embryos and "saviour siblings" and spoke at over 30 public meetings throughout the UK opposing these measures.

In 2010 he hosted a 12-part television series on the plight of persecuted Christians. In 2011 successfully steered a Private Members Bill through all its stages in the House of Lords. The Re-export Control Bill regulates the re-sale of weapons into areas of conflict. In Parliament he has continued to speak out regularly on a range of issues.

In March 2011 he organised a visit to the United Kingdom of a delegation from North Korea, which included the Speaker, Choe Tae Bok; he was appointed Vice Delegate of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George.

He arranged for the Fellowship awarded earlier to Burmese pro-democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, to be presented to her personally during her recent visit to the UK.

He also recently gave an address at a conference at the American Congress on the plight of Egypt's Coptic Christians.

David is married to Elizabeth Bell and has four children – they live in Lancashire.