Richard Madron Seligman CBE (10 November 1918 – 9 July 2002) was a British politician. He spent most of his career in industry, where he came to understand and support the European Economic Community and was latterly a Member of the European Parliament (Conservative), winning the West Sussex seat in 1979 by a record margin of 95,484 votes, which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records. He held the seat until he retired in 1994.
Background, early life and education
Seligman was born in was born in Leatherhead, Surrey. His family were German Jewish bankers who dispersed to Britain and the United States in the 19th century. His father, Richard, founded an industrial machinery business and his mother, Hilda, was a sculptor, author, activist, and philanthropist. He had an older sister, Audrey Babette Seligman (1907-1990), and three older brothers: Adrian (1909-2003), a Royal Navy Commander; Peter; and Oliver (who was killed in WWII).
Seligman was educated at Rokeby and at Harrow, where he played cricket for the school. He read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford and became president of the Union. He was an excellent sportsman, especially at cricket, rugby and tennis, and represented the university at skiing. He would later represent Britain in the sport at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo.
During World War II, Seligman served with the 6th Armoured Divisional Signals, rising to the rank of major. He fought in the North Africa and Italy campaigns, including at the Battle of Monte Cassino.
After the war, Seligman joined the industrial machinery business founded by his father. The A.P.V. Company, based in Crawley, produced a wide range of industrial equipment, mainly for food and drink processing. Seligman rose to be managing director.
Friendship with Edward Heath
Seligman was well known as the oldest friend of the former prime minister Sir Edward Heath whom he met at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1937, having previously been educated at Harrow School. Heath was godfather to his eldest son, Lincoln, and frequently holidayed with Seligman's family.
In 1939, in the days before the outbreak of war, he was on a hiking holiday with Heath in Germany and Poland, an especially risky endeavour for Seligman, who was half Jewish. In Warsaw, they were warned by the British embassy to get out of Poland as fast as possible. They avoided being picked up by taking crowded trains and hitchhiking. While they were in Leipzig on 26 August, the news of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was announced and they only just got to France before hostilities broke out.
He married Nancy-Joan Marks, in 1947, and they had three sons and a daughter.
Seligman was appointed CBE in 1994.