The distinguished Catholic campaigner and Labour peer Lord Frank Longford died today at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, in London. In a statement, Lord Longford's family said: "Lady Longford and the family announce with deep sadness the death of Frank Pakenham, Earl of Longford, at the age of 95. It was a great life and he was a great man." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, said: "I remember Lord Longford as a great friend and a man not afraid to be different. He was an outstanding Christian witness who devoted his entire life to the Catholic faith. May he rest in peace." Prime Minister Tony Blair, on holiday in Mexico, told the BBC: " he was a man of passionate integrity and humanity and a great reformer committed to modernising the law while also caring deeply for individuals". Former Labour MP Tony Benn, who served in Harold Wilson's government with Lord Longford from 1964-68, said Lord Longford was a "compassionate, kindly and thoughtful" man. Born on December 5, 1905, Frank Pakenham was the second son of the fifth Earl of Longford. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. In 1930 he joined the Conservative Party but after meeting his future wife, Elizabeth, at Oxford, he became a Labour supporter and a Catholic. The couple had eight children together. Lord Longford played a major role in the Beveridge reforms which led to the creation of the welfare state. His first cabinet post came under Harold Wilson as Lord Privy Seal and leader of the House of Lords. An active social worker, he chaired several charities including the National Society for Physically Handicapped Children, Mencap and the National Youth Employment Council. Passionately concerned about issues relating to prison reform and the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners - Lord Longford hit the headlines many times through the years for his support of Myra Hyndley and other high-profile prisoners. .Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Essentially, he refused to see people who had done terrible things as terrible people."
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