Tributes paid to former MP

Frank Cook
Frank Cook

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former MP who has died at the age of 76 after a battle with lung cancer.

Hartlepool-born Frank Cook, who served as MP for the Stockton North constituency for 27 years, died at the University Hospital of North Tees on Tuesday night.

The dad-of-four, who was diagnosed with lung cancer early last year, had a tumour in his right lung and a secondary tumour in a lymph gland near his heart.

Mr Cook, who lived in Stockton with his wife, Somsangouane Baldinger, from Laos, was first elected MP in June 1983.

He also leaves behind four children, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren from his first marriage.

Civic chiefs have paid tribute to Mr Cook who had a varied career, including working as a transport manager and Butlins Redcoat, before becoming an MP.

Leader of Stockton Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “I’ve known Frank since 1981 when he was the Parliamentary candidate for the Stockton constituency and became the prospective candidate for Stockton North where he went on to win the 1983 election and was an MP until 2010.

“Frank was a friend and colleague for many years and contributed to the seat for Stockton North where he was recognised as a man with strong views and never one to shy away from speaking out.

“For 27 years he worked hard and over that time had a number of successes.

“The council’s condolences go to his family at this sad time.”

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, said: “To represent an area in Parliament for over a quarter of a century, as Frank Cook did in Stockton, was a remarkable achievement.

“He will rightly be remembered for his work with families on Teesside on changing the law on double jeopardy which, only in the last couple of weeks, has permitted some of the killers of Stephen Lawrence to face re-trial, conviction and imprisonment.

“In the House of Commons, he was a firm but fair committee chairman and served on the Council of Europe.”

During his long political career, Mr Cook campaigned on many local, national and international issues after winning the Stockton North seat for Labour following the defection of Bill Rodgers.

He continued to represent the constituency until the 2010 General Election, after being deselected by the Labour Party.

He served as an opposition whip from 1987 to 1992.

Before becoming an MP, Mr Cook also worked as a construction engineer, gravedigger and teacher for people with learning difficulties.

One of his early Parliamentary campaigns involved the fight against plans to store nuclear waste in the former anhydrite mines beneath Billingham.

He also played key roles in backing plans for a new hospital at Wynyard, opposing moves to merge Cleveland Police into a regional force and supporting Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Nationally, he worked closely with Ann Ming, from Billingham, for the landmark change in the double jeopardy law over the murder of her daughter Julie Hogg, also from Billingham.

Together with the Easington MP, the late Lord Jack Dormand, he also sponsored the Bill for the building of the Tees Barrage, and was the founder chairman of the All-Party Landmines Eradication Group in Parliament.

He gained international recognition for his expertise on defence matters, holding key roles with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, including serving as its vice-president and rapporteur general.

Mr Cook’s successor as MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, paid tribute to his campaigning efforts.

“I’ll best remember him for his early years when he led campaigns like the one to ban the nuclear dump planned for Billingham and his uncompromising championing of ordinary people and the issues that affected their lives,” he said.