13:17, April 10 185 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-10 13:17:12
Other lives  Michael Gaiger obituary

My father, Michael Gaiger, who has died aged 85, was a lawyer who showed courage and determination throughout his long career working overseas, nowhere more so than in Uganda, where he stood up to the dictator Idi Amin.

In 1965, as a young solicitor working in Banbury, Oxfordshire, he answered an advertisement for a job in the attorney general’s office of the newly independent government of Uganda. He took his family to live in Kampala, but after Amin’s 1971 coup the independence of the judiciary was increasingly tested.

The following year Michael was given the task of helping to trace two Americans, Nicholas Stroh and Robert Siedle, who had disappeared while investigating the deaths of 150 soldiers. After requisitioning a helicopter to locate the Americans’ burnt-out car, Michael was instrumental in setting up an inquiry. When the investigating judge fled to Kenya in fear for his life, he entrusted the report to Michael to deliver to the attorney general intact – which he did, having kept a copy in case the original, with its damning evidence of the army’s involvement in the killings, disappeared.

On another occasion, he drove a desperate man, disguised under a large straw hat, to the US embassy to claim asylum. After that our family was constantly followed, although that did not stop Michael helping others to escape. In 1973, following a personal warning from Amin, we left with the last group of expelled Asians.

After Uganda my father worked in Sudan, Papua New Guinea, the New Hebrides – as attorney general he helped take the country to independence as Vanuatu – and the Falkland Islands, where he was sent in 1982 to be the first attorney general.

He was born in Alton, Hampshire, to Richard, a director of a food company, and his wife, Dorothee (nee Bradbury). After attending Hurstpierpoint boarding school in West Sussex he studied law externally, gaining his degree and qualifying as a solicitor in 1959. He worked in private practice in London and then Chester, where he met Joyce Nelmes, a fashion buyer, whom he married in 1964.

After their overseas stints, Michael and Joyce moved to Bodmin, Cornwall, in 1987, where he worked as a consultant, including for the UN (1988-97), concentrating mostly on legislation related to fisheries, wildlife, plants and pesticides.

In retirement he gained an Open University degree in international studies (2004) and began writing his memoirs, sadly unfinished. Shortly before he died he said that he regretted putting his family at risk in Uganda. We told him that what he did made us incredibly proud.

Michael is survived by Joyce, by his children, Georgina, Simon, Emma, Oliver and me, and by eight grandchildren.

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