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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK
Tributes to humanist peer
Lord Longford
Lord Longford: Man of independence and humanity
Politicians and campaigners for prison reform have paid tribute to Lord Longford who has died aged 95.

Many praised his strength of conviction and willingness to stand up for those without a voice.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who heard of Lord Longford's death while in Mexico, said the peer was "a man of passionate integrity and humanity" and "a great reformer committed to modernising the law".

Lord Longford had a rare belief in humanity and a determination to stand up for people

Juliet Lyon
Prison Reform Trust
Former Labour MP Tony Benn, who served in Harold Wilson's government with Lord Longford from 1964-68, remembered the peer as a "kindly and thoughtful" person.

He said the controversy over Lord Longford's support for the release of Moors murderer Myra Hindley should not be allowed to overshadow memories of his other achievements.

Lord Longford's pre-war opposition to the appeasement of Hitler and his work on the Beveridge reforms which led to the creation of the welfare state, were chief among these Mr Benn said.

Brave companion

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said she would miss Lord Longford both professionally and personally.

"Firstly, he was one of the bravest people I have ever met because he would stand up and challenge what everybody else was saying.

Lord Longford, who was Knight of the Garter, with Princess Anne
Lord Longford was Knight of the Garter
"Secondly, he was compassionate and reminded people that nobody is beyond redemption.

"And thirdly he was also a wonderful lunch companion and could drink anyone under the table."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said Lord Longford was a remarkable man who campaigned for almost a century for fairness and justice.

She said the peer's association with the Moors murderers and other high profile criminals was down to his ability to distance people from the acts they had committed and still see them as part of the human race.

"Essentially, he refused to see people who had done terrible things as terrible people."

'Outstanding Christian'

Mark Leech, chief executive of the ex-offenders charity Unlock, paid tribute to Lord Longford's battles with the establishment.

"He was a bastion of independence and humanity and the penal reformer of the 20th Century," he said.

His work with Myra Hindley grabbed all the headlines but there was a lot more to him than that

Tony Benn

"Though he had many critics - including the last Conservative Home Secretary - there are still many people who had good things to say about him. "

The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, paid tribute to Lord Longford's loyalty to his faith.

"I remember Lord Longford as a great friend and a man not afraid to be different.

"He was an outstanding Christian witness who devoted his entire life to the Catholic faith. May he rest in peace."

See also:

03 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Campaigner Lord Longford dies
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