4th May 2018

Obituary: Tony Williams

Trading Standards lost a dedicated and admired expert in May 2018


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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We are sad to report that Tony died on 7th May after a long illness with cancer which he bore with great courage. He was one of our best food safety experts and became one of the EU’s most respected experts on fertilisers and feeding stuffs.

Paul Allen recalls that Tony and his colleagues worked in Latvia in the late 1990’s, but initially the European Delegation refused to approve his appointment because he did not have a degree. After representations to the Head of the EU Delegation to explain that whilst Tony might not have a degree he was recognised throughout the EU as one of their most accomplished and valuable experts on fertilizer and feeding stuffs. The Commission relented and Tony, Charles Cockbill and Paul Allen were able to bring Latvia’s Food, Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs laws and practices up to the much higher standards of the Union, thus allowing Latvia to subsequently become a member.

Tony and colleagues also worked together for many years in Gloucestershire with Harry Rigby and then Maurice Chapman, Keith Eaglestone and others.

Tony also made an outstanding contribution on Fertiliser and Feeding Stuffs matters to the Institutes Quality Standards Committee. His expertise was exceptional.

Jim Humble recalls Tony Williams was the most respected and admired Chief Inspector responsible for food control and inspection in UK. In 1989 as the LACOTS Panel Chairman he represented the United Kingdom at the first exploratory meeting of the Heads of Food Regulation from over 23 European Countries. The meeting at the 5 star Hotel Scheveninger in the Netherlands led to the creation of FLEP (the European Forum of Food Control Practitioners).

However Tony suffered a less welcome experience. Whilst registering at the hotel his brand new leather brief case containing passport, flight tickets, papers and bank cards ‘disappeared’. Panic!

Police examination of the hotel CCTV showed how a slick gang of three stole and passed around his brief case in 30 seconds before departing through revolving doors. That was not the end of the incident. His colleague, administrator Jim Humble, spent most of the next tedious two days helping the police investigation and obtaining new flight tickets, passport identification and bank cancellations leaving Tony free to represent the best of the UK regulatory interests at the formal meeting.

Days later, when they separately returned home Jim Humble was arrested at Rotterdam Airport. This was because he presented Tony’s ‘stolen’ tickets and it took over four hours in confinement to prove that he had inadvertently exchanged flight tickets with Tony when travelling from Heathrow. The ‘Teflon-plated’ Tony received two crates of champagne in compensation…Jim Humble a lesson in reading the small print!

Tom Philpott remembers that Tony was a great contributor to the Weston super Mare courses over many years. His depth of knowledge, experience and practical experience in both food and agriculture law benefited so many trainees. His support as a chief officer in the Provincial area was matched only by that of Brian Beckett.

Tony and his wife Pauline joined us at the last College of Fellows weekend organised by Nigel Strick and partner Debbie in Penzance in November 2016.

A very close colleague of Bob Charlesworth from their Cornwall days recalls the time when Tony was his assistant and believe they both played cricket for Cornwall.

Tony was admired by many and we offer our sincere condolences to his wife Pauline and family. There was a Service of Thanksgiving for his life at Cheltenham Crematorium on 19th June.

(compiled from memories of Tony’s colleagues)