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Ex-councillor Chris Newby found dead in Cambodia

Shock as colleagues pay tribute to military man with 'brilliant mind'

Written by . Published on November 12th 2012.

Ex-councillor Chris Newby found dead in Cambodia

A FORMER acting leader of Liverpool City Council, Chris Newby, has been found dead in an apartment block in the Cambodian beach resort of Sihanoukville. 

Officials there say the 55-year-old had apparently suffered a heart attack. 

News of his death was reported in the English-language Cambodia Herald on November 9. Under the headline: British man found dead in Sihanoukville. 

The paper reported: “SIHANOUKVILLE (Cambodia Herald) – A British man has been found dead in his room after dying of an apparent heart attack, police said. 

The police identified the victim, who was found on Wednesday, as Christopher Newby, 55, who had been renting a room in Village Three in Commune Two. Se Chusith Chout, deputy head of the Sihanoukville Health Department, said the man had been drinking heavily.” 

Former City Council leader Mike Storey – now Lord Storey – said Newby had apparently been dead for a few days when his body was discovered. He was cremated in Cambodia. 

His widow, Alana, is awaiting details of the repatriation of his ashes to their home in Liverpool. 

Liverpool Direct

Chris Newby was first elected to the city council as a Labour member in the 1990s, but in 1998 he crossed the floor and became a Liberal Democrat. 

He became a member of Mike Storey’s cabinet and served as acting leader of the city for a time.

Responsibility for the controversial Liverpool Direct came under his portfolio and he represented the city on a European-wide body promoting new technology. 

Today another former councillor, one time Lord Mayor Frank Doran, paid tribute to Chris Newby.

Both men had military backgrounds, Newby serving with the Royal Signals where he was engaged in intelligence work. 

Beach SihanoukvilleThe resort of Sihanoukville where Chris Newby's body was found in a hotel room

Said Frank Doran: "I was shocked when I heard about Chris’s death. He had been working in the Far East as a university teacher, initially in Thailand and Vietnam, before he moved over the border into Cambodia. 

“I was told a housekeeper in the block where he lived discovered what had happened and alerted the police. The police contacted the British Consul who informed the Foreign Office. There is no suspicion of foul play and he died from natural causes.” 


He added: "I saw Chris just a few months ago when he was in England and I thought he didn’t look very well. He served the military very well and originally joined as a young army apprentice. He reached the rank of sergeant major before becoming a commissioned officer, serving in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. He spoke fluent Arabic and could speak at least four Arabic dialects. These abilities were very useful in his role with the Army. 

"I thought myself some of the experiences from his military days left him with post traumatic stress, though it was something he would never speak of. That is why he liked to get away to the Far East to explore the jungles and far away places. He first went over there as part of a democracy project before getting a job teaching English to university students. Everyone who knew Chris is shocked and saddened by his death." 

Another former council colleague, Joe Kenny, said: "Chris had a brilliant mind and I thought if he had stayed with politics he would have become an MP and probably a minister. He was way ahead of his time in some of the ideas he had, a most intelligent man who wanted the best for Liverpool. 

"He had a humble upbringing in Bradford, him and his sister looked after by their mother. He became an Army apprentice and they taught him everything. This is so sad."

Newby became a lay member of Merseyside Police Autority and that led him to joining the Labour Party and to a council seat, representing Knotty Ash. He switched to the Lib Dems but decided, in 2007, to quit local politics.

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