Montagu: no pardon
The previous Lord Montagu of Beaulieu will not get a posthumous pardon after he was imprisoned for ‘unnatural’ acts committed before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967.
It had been thought that he, along with thousands of other gay and bisexual men, would receive pardons.
But the Bill that would have wiped clean the criminal records of thousands fell at its first parliamentary hurdle. Minister Sam Gyimah spoke in the Commons for 25 minutes, reaching the time limit allotted for the debate, essentially ‘talking out’ the Bill.
In the summer of 1953 Edward Montagu was arrested with two friends. All three were later jailed after being found guilty of having homosexual sex with RAF airmen. Lord Montagu pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court in 1954, but had to endure eight months in prison.
The new Lord Montagu, Ralph, is keen to put the matter behind the family and the museum. He says: ‘ The position is simply this – my father always protested his innocence so, in his case, a pardon would have been somewhat irrelevant.
‘If my father was still alive, I know that he would be more concerned about the here and now than reawakening memories of a very unpleasant
episode from the past.’ Ruth Hunt, chief executive for Stonewall, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender charity, condemned the Government’s handling over the situation. She says: ‘ Thousands of gay and bisexual men throughout the 20th century were prosecuted under what were unjust and discriminatory sexual offence laws. ‘ This is a clear opportunity for the Government to unequivocally make amends for the actions of past governments who instituted these laws. She concluded: ‘It is time for the Government to apologise to all those who were affected.’
Edward, third Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, died in 2015.