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Sir Charles Fletcher Fletcher-Cooke, QC (5 May 1914 – 24 February 2001) was a British politician.


Early lifeEdit

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.[1] 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.[2] He became a barrister and was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1938, later becoming a Queen's Counsel. He served in the RNVR during World War II and was a legal advisor to the British Government at the Danube Conference in 1948.

Political careerEdit

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 [3]

Fletcher-Cooke was a junior Home Office minister from 1961 to 1963 when he resigned after an absconder from an approved school was found driving Fletcher-Cooke's Austin Princess car with his permission but without insurance or a driving licence.[2][4] In his letter of resignation he said "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'.".[4] 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.[4]


John was the son of Charles Arthur Cooke (1883–1914) and Gwendoline May née Bradford (1883–1977). His elder brother, Sir John Fletcher-Cooke, was MP for Southampton Test from 1964 to 1966.


  1. ^ The Guardian, 1 March 2001
  2. ^ a b Straw, Jack (2012). Last Man Standing : memoirs of a political survivor. London: Macmillan. p. 121. ISBN 9781447222750.
  3. ^ "Personal File: Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke:" Who Do You Think You Are? March 2013: 66
  4. ^ a b c "Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke: obituary". Telegraph. 28 February 2001. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Robert Stanley Prescott
Member of Parliament for Darwen
Constituency abolished: see
Rossendale & Darwen