Cecil Levita

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Cecil Bingham Levita
Born 18 January 1867
Died 10 October 1953
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars Second Matabele War
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards K.C.V.O.
C.B.E.
Relations Lieutenant Colonel Harry Plumridge Levita c.1862-1919 (brother)

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham Levita, KCVO, CBE, DL (18 January 1867 – 10 October 1953) was a British soldier and public service worker who eventually rose to be chairman of the London County Council in 1928.[1][2]

Career[edit]

British Army[edit]

Levita attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich[3] and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1886.[4] He started his career as a soldier serving in the Second Matabele War and the Second Boer War where he was A.D.C. to Lieutenant-General Sir Baker Russell.[5][6] He was later appointed a special service officer and a D.A.A.G. in the Natal Field Force.[1] He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Queen's medal with three clasps.[1] He was created an MVO in 1901, and promoted to Major 5 February 1902.[7] He retired from the army in October 1909.[8] During the First World War he was recalled from the reserve to serve as General Staff Officer.[9] After the war he was awarded the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel and made a CBE for "valuable services rendered in connection with the War".[10]

Politics[edit]

In 1910 Levita contested the St. Ives division of Cornwall in the General Election as a Liberal Unionist but was unsuccessful.[1][11][12] However, in 1911 he was elected at a by-election to the London County Council as a member of the Conservative-backed Municipal Reform Party,[13] where he represented North Kensington for over 25 years. He sat on numerous committees including serving as chairman of the housing committee and chairman of the London County Council from 1928 to 1929.[14] He was Knighted at the end of his term as chairman for "public and political services".[15] He was largely responsible for founding the King George Hospital in Ilford to serve the population of the large LCC estate at Becontree.[1][16] Levita was appointed a KCVO in 1932[17]

"Talking Mongoose Case"[edit]

His career was somewhat overshadowed by an episode in 1936 which became known as the "Talking Mongoose Case". Levita had alleged that Richard S. Lambert, the founding editor of The Listener was unfit to serve on the board of the British Film Institute (on which his wife served) because Lambert had published an article about a house which was supposedly haunted by Gef the talking mongoose. Lambert then brought an action for slander against Levita which he continued to pursue despite pressure from Sir Stephen Tallents, controller of administration and the chairman of the BBC Ronald Collet Norman who was a friend of Levita's.[18] Lambert won substantial damages[19] and the case prompted an enquiry launched by then Prime Minister into the rights of a public corporation to control the extraneous activities of their employees.[20] The enquiry resulted in practices of the Civil Service being implemented within the BBC.[21]

Family[edit]

On 30 May 1917 Levita married Florence Woodruff, widow of George Aman of Bucharest and daughter of William Robb.[22] The couple had one son and one daughter.[1][2][23]

He died at his home in Hove, Sussex in October 1953 aged 86.[1][2][24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "LEVITA, Lieut-Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Obituary: Sir Cecil Levita". The Times. 12 October 1953. p. 10. 
  3. ^ "Royal Military Academy, Woolwich". The Times. 24 July 1886. p. 9. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25615. p. 3855. 10 August 1886.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27049. p. 793. 7 February 1899.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27052. p. 930. 14 February 1899.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27408. p. 1038. 18 February 1902.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28295. p. 7431. 8 October 1909.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29231. p. 6936. 13 July 1915.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31377. pp. 6978–6981. 30 May 1919.
  11. ^ "Election Intelligence". The Times. 6 October 1909. p. 7. 
  12. ^ "Election Notes. Unionist Gains And Increased Polls.". The Times. 29 January 1910. p. 7. 
  13. ^ "London County Council". The Times. 22 February 1911. p. 15. 
  14. ^ "New L.C.C.'S First Meeting. Col. Levita Elected Chairman". The Times. 16 March 1928. p. 11. 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33472. p. 1436. 26 February 1929.
  16. ^ "King George Hospital At Ilford. Foundation Stones Laid". The Times. 7 July 1930. p. 23. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33785. pp. 6–7. 29 December 1931.
  18. ^ The BBC Under Pressure, The Mongoose Case, 1936.
  19. ^ "High Court Of Justice King's Bench Division, £7,500 Damages Against Sir Cecil Levita, Lambert v. Levita". The Times. 7 November 1936. p. 4. 
  20. ^ "Lambert v. Levita A Special Board Of Inquiry". The Times. 13 November 1936. p. 16. 
  21. ^ "B.B.C. And Mr. Lambert Report Of Board Of Inquiry, Theory Of Persecution Rejected". The Times. 17 December 1936. p. 8. 
  22. ^ "Marriages". The Times. 31 May 1917. p. 1. 
  23. ^ "Births". The Times. 5 July 1918. p. 1. 
  24. ^ The London Gazette: no. 40001. p. 5826. 30 October 1953.
Political offices
Preceded by
John Maria Gatti
Chairman of the London County Council
1928 – 1929
Succeeded by
Lord Monk Bretton