ONE of the most prominent peers in the South has broken a near 50-year silence on the sensational sex case which rocked post-war Britain and put him in prison.

In his autobiography to be published later this month, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 73, talks frankly about the landmark 1954 trial which saw him convicted of gross indecency with RAF officers, and the notorious allegations involving Boy Scouts which preceded it.

Until now, Lord Montagu, a devoted father-of-three, has never spoken openly of the scandals that shook the British establishment to its core and made him the target of a cruel whispering campaign.

He reveals he still regrets the distress the national controversy caused to his family and close friends, but says he feels no shame about the court case - which ultimately proved pivotal in subsequent legislation to decriminalise homosexuality.

The twice-married peer said: "I will not be around forever to defend myself or to put my side of the story. I want to put the record straight before I die.''

In the book, entitled Wheels Within Wheels; An Unconventional Life, he also:

Openly admits his bisexuality.

Accuses the 1950s establishment of being "out to get him'' as part of an anti-homosexual conspiracy.

Says the false allegations of paedophilia drove him to the edge of a breakdown.

Lord Montagu was even offered an escape route to communist Russia, similar to spy traitors Burgess and Maclean.

He hit the headlines in 1953, accused of interfering with a 14-year-old Scout camping on his Beaulieu estate. He vehemently denied the charges, and was cleared.

The 12-month jail sentence he received at Winchester Assizes for his involvement in the airmen scandal sparked the government's Wolfenden Inquiry that led to the reform of homosexual law.

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