Obituary: Elwyn Watkins

Date published: 23 May 2024

It is with great sadness that the family announces the passing of Elwyn Watkins, who passed away unexpectedly on Saturday 18 May 2024.

Elwyn, from Rochdale, who had two brothers and two sisters, was known locally as a politician, specifically for his role as a Liberal Democrat councillor between the years 2004 and 2010.

Elwin was first elected in 2004 in the all-out election, and re-elected in 2007 for Healey ward, and was well-known in the community both inside and outside the political realm.

Elwyn’s sister Sian Lloyd described her brother as “larger than life.” She added: “(He was) kind and understanding to all those people who needed a helping hand.

“He will be missed so much by his family and friends and the wider community.

In his earlier years, Elwyn started his career as an analyst at Pergamon Press, a Robert Maxwell company, working for Ian and Kevin Maxwell, Robert Maxwell’s sons.

Pergamon was a subsidiary of the British Printing and Communications Corporation (later Maxwell Communications Corporation) of which Robert Maxwell was Chairman, Chief Executive, and major shareholder.

Following this, he spent time in Birchin Lane, supporting the C-suite at RoyScot Finance, then the corporate lease finance arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

He then spent around 17 years working between the UK and Saudi Arabia, principally as a close confidant of Sheik Abdullah Alhamrani, whom Elwyn helped secure overall control of the Alhamrani Group. 

Back in Rochdale Elwyn was a robust campaigner for liberal values, which he held dearly, and his work as a Liberal councillor and prospective Member of Parliament. 

He won a landmark legal case in 2010 after Phil Woolas was ruled to have knowingly made false statements about him during the General Election campaign in Oldham East and Saddleworth in which Mr Watkins stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

The court had heard that the Mr Woolas, the incumbent Labour MP, stirred up racial tensions in a desperate bid to retain his seat in Oldham East and Saddleworth. Mr Watkins mounted the rare legal challenge over the statements made in a pamphlet and two mock newspapers distributed in the final stages of May's contest which Mr Woolas won by just 103 votes.

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