David Maxwell Fyfe

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File:David Maxwell Fyfe.jpg
Lord Kilmuir in his robes as Lord Chancellor
David Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Viscount Kilmuir (later Earl of Kilmuir) (1900–1967) was a British lawyer (born in Edinburgh) and Conservative politician. He was an opponent of gay rights, and led the opposition in the House of Lords to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, despite having set up the Wolfenden Committee which recommended decriminalisation.

Post-war Europe

After World War II he took part in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg, and is remembered for the cross-examination of Hermann Göring in March 1946.

In 1950, as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, he played a leading role in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights, which has had consequences that he would not have liked.[1]

Wolfenden Committee

In 1954, as Home Secretary, he appointed the Wolfenden Committee to look into the questions of homosexuality and prostitution. It has been speculated that he expected the Committee to come out against relaxing the law on gay sex.[2] Later that year he was raised to the House of Lords and became Lord Chancellor. When the Wolfenden Report was published in 1957 he was strongly opposed to its recommendations, saying to Robert Boothby "I am not going down in history as the man who made sodomy legal."[3]

He died in 1967, the year in which the Wolfenden recommendations were partially implemented.


  1. http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/world/united_kingdom/uknews24.htm Graham Stewart, "The Accidental Legacy of a Homophobic Humanitarian", from The Times, 2 October 2000.
  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/jun/24/communities.gayrights Geraldine Bedell, "Coming out of the dark ages", The Observer, 24 June 2007.
  3. David Kynaston, Family Britain 1951-1957 Bloomsbury 2009 p370 ISBN 978-1-4088-0083-6