It is with great sadness that we have to record the death of Michael Siefert. Lawyer, and campaigner against injustice, Michael was a good friend of Soho and of the Soho Society and gave wise counsel on many occasions. In the early 70s he advised us on how to confront the developers who were threatening many of us with eviction, both residents and small businesses, in order to redevelop the properties. Residents have rights, he said, but little money. Businesses have few rights but do have the wherewithal to fund a campaign. Together, he said, you have the means to fight. And we did. And we did win, as our delaying tactics meant that in the ensuing property crash, the developers went bust, or vanished.
But Michael operated on a world stage, supporting many causes that he felt were unjustly under attack, from striking miners to ANC (African National Congress) leaders in exile to Friends of the Earth and many more, giving countless hours of his time without charge. One of his proudest memories was having been invited by Nelson Mandela to his inauguration as President of South Africa.
Michael was a joy to meet up with, always witty and outspoken, but also with great warmth and concern.
Latterly Michael worked at the offices of Simons Muirhead & Burton in Frith Street, who have followed Michael in supporting the Soho Society and have similarly embraced the Soho community. His wise counsel and love of life with be sorely missed by them and we send our condolences also to his family.