Mon­tagu: no par­don

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

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.

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