By Kelly-Ann Kiernan, Chief reporter
Sunday, February 7, 2010
A JOURNALIST, civil servant and businessman who served as MEP for Hertfordshire for 15 years, has died.
Digswell resident Derek Prag was a European to the core and his ability to speak seven languages took him around the world.
Born in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales on August 6, 1923, he was educated at Bolton School, and was a scholar of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he read modern languages and, after the war, economics.
Mr Prag worked for Reuters news agency for five years in London, Brussels and Madrid.
His political instincts put him squarely on the liberal wing of the Conservative Party, however his loyalty was put under severe strain when the party drifted towards anti-Europeanism during the Major years.
He was one of the few Britons to have been involved in the institutions of the European Community from their very beginnings, working for the European Commission and its predecessor for 18 years before being elected in the Parliament’s first direct elections.
He married wife Dora in Manchester in 1948 and the pair moved to Digswell in 1979 where they became involved with the Jewish community.
Son Nick said: “Despite his extremely busy life, he always found time to meet any constituent who had a problem, and answered every letter that was written to him, however offbeat they were.
“And some of them really were.”
He added: “He was a very honest and conscientious MEP.
“He founded the Disablement Group in the Parliament, and locally, helped to set up a disabled lift at WGC station.”
In 1993 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Hertfordshire, having previously been presented with the Silver Medal of European Merit for service to the cause of European unity.
In 1996 he was appointed Commander of the Order of Leopold II in Belgium by the Belgian Government.
In the words of Mr Prag himself, “not bad for a ruddy Welshman”.
Mr Prag died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, January 20, aged 86.
He is survived by wife Dora and three sons: Nicholas, MD of EUbusiness.com, Jonathan, professional classical guitarist, and Stephen, director of international programs, Pacific University, Oregon, USA.