Tributes to Fred Catherwood, leading evangelical politician

Fred and Elizabeth Catherwood at Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge, 2012.

Tributes have been paid to the leading politician and evangelical activist Sir Fred Catherwood, who has died at the age of 89.

Born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, he had a successful business career before serving as Catherwood served as director general of the National Economic Development Council and as a Conservative Member of the European Parliament from 1979-94. He was Vice-President of the Parliament from 1989-92.

He was also president of the Evangelical Alliance UK and wrote widely on Christianity and social affairs. The Alliance's board chairman, Mike Talbot, said: "He had a passion for integrating his faith with the public square. That faith was deeply rooted in scripture, and in a love for his Lord – and that shaped all that he did in a significant life of public service."

Peter Lynas, director of the Northern Ireland Evangelical Alliance, said: "Sir Fred Catherwood was a great Northern Irish export and pioneer of the faith at work movement, who will be sadly missed."

Catherwood was an outspoken pro-European and was critical of Margaret Thatcher's famous Bruges speech in 1988, which he said "created the impression of external enemies" and "made nationalism respectable". In his paper A Christian's View on Europe, he referred to the "the racist football hooligans who disgrace the flag of St George", comparing them to Nazi brownshirts. He said: "But if our leaders demonise foreigners, they should not be surprised if simple-minded louts take them at their word."

When he left the European Parliament he devoted himself to the EA, touring the country and speaking in churches with the aim of encouraging them to join together to carry out vital community care. He said: "Evangelical churches and organisations are facing much of the human wreckage of today's society. They are dealing with the traumas of wrecked marriages, reaching out to teenagers who have been abandoned by their families. I want to help them help each other in this vital work."

He also warned of the effects of greed and moral confusion on society as Britain abandoned its historic Christian faith.

He was married to Elizabeth, daughter of pastor and author Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.