Emlyn Hooson, Baron Hooson

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Hugh Emlyn Hooson, Baron Hooson QC (26 March 1925 – 21 February 2012)[1] was a British Liberal Democrat politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Montgomeryshire from 1962 until 1979.

Early life[edit]

Hooson was born at Colomendy in Denbighshire, the son of Hugh and Elsie Hooson.[2] He was educated at Denbigh Grammar School and read law at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II, on a corvette in the north Atlantic.[3]

Legal career[edit]

He became a barrister, called to the bar by Gray's Inn in 1949, and in 1960 became one of the youngest ever Queen's Counsel.

He was chairman of the Flint Quarter Sessions from 1960 and Merioneth Quarter Sessions from 1962, and a member of the Bar Council from 1965.

As QC, Hooson represented Ian Brady, one of the "Moors Murderers" along with Myra Hindley, when Brady was tried and convicted on 3 murder charges at Chester Crown Court in spring 1966.

In 1970 he appeared for the Ministry of Defence at a public inquiry over plans to move its experimental range from Shoeburyness to Pembrey, near Carmarthen.

He went on to become Recorder at both Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea in 1971, Elected Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit 1971 to 1974, and was a Recorder of Crown Courts from 1972 until 1991, as well as a Deputy High Court Judge.

He was President of the Cambrian Law Review and has the Hon. Professional Fellow of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Political career[edit]

Hooson became chairman of the Liberal Party of Wales in 1955 and was elected to the Liberal Party executive in 1965. He contested Conway at the 1950 general election and again in 1951.

As Chairman of the Liberal Party of Wales, he led its merger with the North & South Wales Liberal Federations, thereby uniting liberalism in Wales in the Welsh Liberal Party.[4]

He became MP for Montgomeryshire at a 1962 by-election following the death of Clement Davies, as a member of the Liberal Party. He contested the Liberal Party leadership election of 1967, but withdrew in favour of Jeremy Thorpe.

He introduced the Government of Wales Bill on St David's Day 1967, taking one of the first steps to the formation of the Welsh Assembly.[5]

In 1979, he lost his seat to the Conservatives and was then appointed a life peer as Baron Hooson, of Montgomery in the County of Powys and of Colomendy in the County of Clwyd. Apart from the four years which followed his defeat, and again at the 2010 general election, Montgomeryshire has elected Liberal or Liberal-affiliated candidates since 1880.

He sat for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, where he was active in improving the Mental Health Act, urged police reforms and spoke on law reform and drug trafficking.

Hooson was vice-chairman of the North Atlantic Assembly's political committee, where he worked with Congressman John Lindsay on one of the early reports recommending détente with eastern Europe.

Personal life and other interests[edit]

In 1950, Hooson married Shirley Hamer, daughter of Sir George Hamer, Lord Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire. They had two daughters, Sioned and Lowri. He sent his daughters to London's only Welsh-speaking school, and chaired its governors.[6] The family home was in Llanidloes, where Lord Hooson's funeral was held in the China Street Chapel.[7]

In 1980 he chaired a consortium which bid for the Wales and West television franchise, and became a member of the ITV Advisory Council.

In 1985, Emlyn Hooson became a non-executive director of Laura Ashley, and was later made chairman in 1995. He was already Chairman of the Trustees of the Laura Ashley Foundation, a post he filled from 1986 to 1997.

From 1991 to 2000, he was Chairman of Severn River Crossing PLC, the company operating both the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing.

He became President of the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Newtown in 1966 and the following year, he was made Honorary White Bard of the National Gorsedd of Bards. Between 1987 and 1993, Hooson was the President of the International Eisteddfod, held annually at Llangollen.

A farmer, Hooson was a member of an old North Wales agricultural family. He was a cousin (and political opponent) of Tom Hooson, a Conservative MP who died in 1985.

Lord and Lady Hooson also held the position of President of Llidiartywaen Young Farmers Club for many years. Until his ill health, an annual occurrence was the young farmers being invited in every Christmas Eve to sing carols around the fireside.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Clement Davies
Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire
19621979
Succeeded by
Delwyn Williams
Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Party
1966–1979
Succeeded by
Geraint Howells
Preceded by
Roger Roberts
President of the Welsh Liberal Party
1983–1985
Succeeded by
Sir Maldwyn Thomas