Partner Anthony Turner
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
St Michael Churchyard Clifton Hampden, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England
Sir Charles Fletcher Fletcher-Cooke, QC (5 May 1914 – 24 February 2001) was a British politician. He was part of the Cambridge Apostles.
Fletcher-Cooke was born into a professional London family, though one that was financially diminished because of his father's death from wounds received in the Gallipoli Campaign. He was the son of Charles Arthur Cooke (1883–1914) and Gwendoline May Bradford (1883–1977). His elder brother, Sir John Fletcher-Cooke, was MP for Southampton Test from 1964 to 1966. He was educated at Malvern College and Peterhouse, Cambridge where he was president of the Cambridge Union in 1936. He was an Apostle and a member of the Communist Party. He became a barrister and was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1938, becoming a King's Counsel after the war. He served in the RNVR during World War II and was a legal advisor to the British Government at the Danube Conference in 1948.
Originally a Labour Party candidate, Fletcher-Cooke contested the East Dorset seat in 1945, but lost. He joined the Conservative Party, and was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Darwen at the 1951 general election, which he represented until the 1983 general election, when the seat was abolished in boundary changes. Fletcher-Cooke was responsible for the creation, introduction and passage of the Suicide Act 1961, which decriminalised suicide across the United Kingdom, although he had been trying to introduce such a private member's bill before the British Parliament for over a decade beforehand. Apart from some Catholic and conservative Anglican opposition, the bill passed easily Fletcher-Cooke was a junior Home Office minister from 1961 to 1963 when he resigned under a shadow. Fletcher-Cooke went on to be a delegate to the Consultative Assembly of the European Council and a Member of the European Parliament from 1977 to 1979. He was knighted in 1981.
In 1959, Fletcher-Cooke married a glamourous divorcee, Diana Westcott, former Lady Avebury. At the wedding reception, guests viewed the fact that the cake was made of cardboard as a suitable representation of the relationship between the two. They separated soon after. In February 1963, Fletcher-Cooke had to resign his role as a junior Home Office minister after an eighteen year old borstal boy named Anthony Turner was arrested for speeding in east London. He was at the wheel of Fletcher-Cooke's Austin Princess car with his permission but without insurance or a driving licence. It transpired that Turner had been living with Fletcher-Cooke who was "looking after him" after they were introduced to each other by Robin, Viscount Maugham. In his letter of resignation Fletcher-Cooke said that "he had been particularly concerned with the after-care of delinquents. Having been introduced to Turner ... he had duly befriended the young man and tried to help him. On reflection, he believed that this course of action had been 'well-intentioned but misguided'."
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