Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford

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Francis Aungier Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford KG, PC (5 December 1905–3 August 2001), known as the Lord Pakenham from 1945 to 1961, was a British politician, author, and social reformer. He was a Labour minister who attracted much controversy with his unsuccessful campaign for the release of Moors murderer Myra Hindley from prison, and also for his high-profile opposition to the gay rights movement. He was also criticised by the media for touring the sex clubs of Europe which he had attempted to close down. Both of these campaigns led to him being the target of a particularly high level of ridicule and criticism from the tabloid media.


Background and education

The second son of Thomas Pakenham, 5th Earl of Longford, of the second creation, in the Peerage of Ireland, he was educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford, where, despite having failed to be awarded a scholarship, he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (also called Modern Greats). He became a don at Christ Church. At Oxford he met his future wife, Elizabeth Harman, an undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall.

Political career

In 1931, 25-year-old Pakenham joined the Conservative Research Department where he developed Education policy for the Conservative Party. His future wife persuaded him to become a socialist.[1] They married on 3 November 1931 and eventually had a total of eight children. In 1940, after a period of religious unease, he became a Catholic. His wife was initially dismayed by this, as she had been brought up as a Unitarian and associated Catholicism with reactionary politics; however, she herself became a Catholic in 1946.[2]

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