Ian Harvey, MP and gay campaigner



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After a career in the forces including war service, University, marriage and public service on local councils, Ian Harvey stood for Harrow East in the 1950 general election, winning the seat and holding it in the 1951 and 1955 general elections. From 1955 to 1957 he was secretary of the 1922 Committee. He was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Supply in 1956, becoming a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office in 1958. Unfortunately he was not there for long.

In November 1958, Harvey and a Guardsman from the Coldstream Guards were found in the bushes in St James’s Park and arrested; Harvey tried to give a false name on arrest. Both were charged with gross indecency and breach of the park regulations; when tried on 10 December, the indecency charge was dropped and both were fined £5.

‘A young guardsman in uniform passed me at a slow pace and I knew what that meant,’ he explained later. ‘I turned and caught up with him and we went into St James’s Park.’

‘If (as I fear) he is guilty, he must resign his post in the Govt and his seat in Parliament,’ then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan wrote in his diary. ‘I saw him this morning and did my best to comfort him. But it is a terrible thing and has distressed me greatly.’

Harvey resigned his ministerial post and his seat, forcing a by-election early in 1959; he paid the guardsman’s fine as well as his own.

In 1971 he published his book, To Fall Like Lucifer. From 1972 onwards he was the Vice-President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and from 1980 onwards Chairman of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. He continued to serve on various public bodies until his death.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Douglas Harvey RA, born 25 January 1914, died 10 January 1987.