The smear-a-peer reached new depths today with the Times allegations of embarrassment against the Tory shadow health minister Lord McColl. Iain Dale has already blogged as someone who doesn't know him, but having known Ian McColl for 17 years I wanted to add some more perspective.
In brief, this is a man whose Christian faith has driven a career which has been dedicated to not just to 50 odd years of NHS surgery but to human rights and social justice. He spends up to 3 months a year unpaid on board a Mercy Ship undertaking life-saving and sight-saving operations off the coast of Africa, often accompanied by his GP wife; a man who promoted compassion for Aids victims through his involvement in setting up Europe's first palliative care centre in 1988, the Mildmay Hospice; who then continued this work in Uganda; who was awarded his life peerage for services to the disabled and to medicine; who has supported the work of the Leprosy Mission (he may still be its president). I could go on with stories of his incredible generosity and philanthropy, but he would be mortified if I did.
The only embarrassment that should be felt today is that of the Times journalists who cannot have failed to discover some of the above compassionate activity as they scraped around in no-news-season, like urban foxes in your dustbins, to deliver a summer shocker: that Lord McColl believes in freedom of choice in healthcare.