WITH more than half a century in political life, Ann Clwyd has first-hand experience of many of the time’s major personalities and events.

She has captured the stories in her recently published memoir, Rebel with a Cause, and will be sharing some of them at this year’s PENfro Book Festival at midday today (Sunday).

As a young reporter she was first on the scene at the Aberfan disaster. There followed several unsuccessful attempts to become an MP as selection committees focused on her fashion choices!

She was then persuaded by friends in the Llanelli constituency to stand as MEP for Mid and West Wales and, after winning the seat her experience turned her from Euro sceptic to Europhile.

An opportunity to fight a by-election for the Cynon Valley saw her enter Westminster and she began moving up through the ranks only to be sacked twice for her principles.

She is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective human rights campaigners in British public life and is particularly well known for her stance on Iraq, leading her to being named one of Saddam Hussein’s ‘most wanted’.

Her talk, at midday on Sunday, September 10, will focus on the people she has met who have left their imprint.

She has precious memories of a private meeting with Princess Diana; friendships with political leaders such as Jalal Talabani in Iraq and Erdal Inonu in Turkey; and a few wry anecdotes about some of her own party leaders!

Whether it’s campaigning against the arms trade internationally or for animal welfare at home; for patients’ rights within the NHS or the curtailing of rogue cosmetic surgeons or justice for the victims of child abuse, Ann is a passionate advocate for the truth.

Above all though, she has a journalistic sense of ‘the story’ which makes her a compelling author and speaker.