Lawyer helps launch Tony Benn documentary

FILM FRIENDS ... politician Tony Benn and Hebburn solicitor Mick Laffey.
FILM FRIENDS ... politician Tony Benn and Hebburn solicitor Mick Laffey.

A SOLICITOR from South Tyneside is “honoured” to be helping launch a new major documentary about legendary British politician Tony Benn.

Mick Laffey, from Hebburn, will this week take part in two question-and-answer sessions with Mr Benn, 88, at the screening of a trailer for a new documentary about his life, called Will And Testament.

Mr Laffey, who works in the serious injuries unit for Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Tony Benn has always been one of my political heroes, and it will be a great honour to speak to him after the screening of the trailer for what will be a fascinating documentary.

“I met Tony two years ago, when he came to Hebburn to unveil a blue plaque in Victoria Road West to Robert Saint, the composer of Gresford, known as ‘the miners’ hymn,’ and also took part in an earlier question- and-answer session with him last year about the documentary.

“I know Tony is in his 80s, but he is still very sharp and I hope he will be raring to go during our chats.”

Mr Benn, a former cabinet minister, was also Labour’s longest-serving MP.

People are invited to attend the session and watch the trailer for the new Tony Benn documentary at the Miners’ Hall, Redhills, Durham, at 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday.

A collaboration between renowned American film-maker Bill Morrison and Icelandic musician Johann Johannson, Will And Testament is being produced by London-based Praslin Pictures Ltd.

This week’s screenings of the trailer, for the full documentary set for release next year, are part of the Brass Durham International Festival.

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ANTHONY Neil Wedgwood Benn, formerly second Viscount Stansgate, was a Labour MP for 50 years, serving as a cabinet minister in the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

He was elected to Parliament in 1950 after winning the Bristol South East seat, and his campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963, allowing the renunciation of such titles.

He was part of a Labour government from 1964 to 1970, serving as Postmaster General and Minister of Technology. In the Labour Government of 1974–1979, he returned to the Cabinet, initially as Secretary of State for Industry before being made Secretary of State for Energy.

During the 1980s, which Labour spent in opposition, he was often regarded as the party’s most notable figure on the left.

He was a strong supporter of the miners during the 1984-5 strike, and stood against Neil Kinnock for the Labour leadership in 1988.

He retired from politics in 2001.