Sir David Amess, the Southend West MP who has died after a stabbing attack, regarded his main interests and areas of expertise as “animal welfare and pro-life” issues.
The long-serving Conservative MP described himself as a “great animal lover” on his website, something that was reflected in his record in parliament.
Sir David, 69, was responsible for introducing the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act in 1988, campaigned to stop the testing of domestic products on animals, tackled the illegal wildlife trade and fought for an end to puppy farming, according to his website.
He opposed the culling of badgers and was one of the few Tory MPs in favour of a foxhunting ban.
In his most recent Commons intervention, on September 23, he called for a debate on “animal welfare generally, cruelty to animals and the welfare of farmyard animals” to mark World Animal Day on October 4.
The Tory veteran was a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation and won the Dods Animal Welfare and Environment Award in 2011 for his work on the issue.
Many of the tributes pouring in for Sir David following his death refer to his passion for animal rights, including from Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, who described him in a tweet as an “enormous animal lover”.
Sir David and his three-year-old French bulldog Vivienne were running in the forthcoming Westminster Dog of the Year Show, which promotes responsible dog ownership.
“Every time I walk into the room Vivienne throws herself at me, lies on their back with her legs in the air to be tickled. But before that she always brings a toy so she is of a generous, giving nature,” he told the Echo news website.
He also regularly judged at local dog shows and supported various local animal charities.
Channel 4’s Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley, who attended Southend High for Girls, called his death “senseless” and said he had supported her mother Celia Riley’s work with the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society.
The charity tweeted: “We at Essex Horse and Pony are shocked and saddened by the murder of local MP and animal advocate Sir David Amess. He was a supporter of the Sanctuary and attended events.”
Aside from animal welfare, Sir David also championed better maternity services.
The MP, who chaired the all-party parliamentary group on maternity, was helping organise an event on maternity safety in parliament next month, according to the Royal College of Midwives, which said it was “shocked and saddened” by his death.
Sir David, a devout Catholic, was also an anti-abortion activist and patron of the Right To Life charity.
The organisation described him as a “pro-life champion” who “used his position as an MP to stand up for the vulnerable, including championing initiatives to introduce more protections for unborn babies and more support for women facing crisis pregnancies”.
Friends and colleagues have described Sir David, who was married with four daughters and a son, as a tireless campaigner for the issues he cared about.
Local councillor John Lamb said he was “always trying to help people and especially refugees he’s tried to help”.
Sir David described as “heart-breaking” a visit to a refugee camp in Malatya in Turkey in 2019, where some 10,000 Syrian refugees were living.
In a tribute to Sir David, the British Red Cross said he “visited British Red Cross volunteers and supported us in our work”.