Henry Walston, Baron Walston

Henry David Leonard George Walston, Baron Walston CVO, JP (16 June 1912 – 29 May 1991) was a British farmer, agricultural researcher and politician, firstly for the Liberal Party, then for Labour and then for the Social Democratic Party.


Walston was born in 1912 to Sir Charles Waldstein (later Walston) and his wife Florence (née Einstein), and was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge. He was a landowner with estates in Cambridgeshire (2700 acres) and St Lucia (3000 acres).[1]

Walston was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1976 New Year Honours.[2] He was a Deputy chairman and then Vice-President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, which he addressed in 1963;[3] and Governor of Guy's Hospital.


Walston married Catherine Crompton (1916–1978) in 1935, in the USA.[4] Oliver Walston, a farmer and agricultural writer, is their second son.[5] From 1946 Catherine was the mistress of the author Graham Greene, who was also her godfather.[6][7] Walston demanded that the adulterous relationship should cease after the 1951 publication of The End of the Affair, Greene's roman à clef; but it continued, ending by about 1966.[8] After Catherine's death, Walston married Elizabeth Scott, who had previously been the wife of Nicholas Scott.[9]

Press reports that Betty Boothroyd, who acted as Walston's secretary before herself entering politics, had been his mistress and also cared for his six children by Catherine, were the subject of a successful libel case brought by Boothroyd.[10]

In politics

Walston served as Member of the Huntingdonshire War Agricultural Committee (1939–1945), Director of Agriculture for the British Zone of Germany (1946–1947), Counsellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1948–1950), Agricultural Adviser for Germany to the Foreign Office (1964–1967) and Chairman of the Institute of Race Relations (1968–1971).

In the early 1940s he was selected as Liberal prospective parliamentary candidate for King's Lynn. In 1945 his booklet 'From Forces to Farming' was published by the Liberal Party. The booklet called for state aided co-operative farming for ex-servicemen.[11] He did not contest King's Lynn, instead switching to contest Huntingdonshire later that year at the general election.

He never managed to become a member of parliament despite contesting seats five times: Huntingdonshire in 1945 for the Liberals, Cambridgeshire in 1951 and 1955 for Labour, and Gainsborough in the 1956 by-election and in 1959 for Labour. On 10 February 1961 he was created a life peer as Baron Walston, of Newton in the County of Cambridge.[12] He supported the Campaign for Democratic Socialism.[13]

Junior minister

Walston served in the First Wilson ministry, as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 20 October 1964 to the beginning of 1967.[14][15]

In internal Foreign Office discussion, Walston supported James Cable's line, that the USA should cut its losses in the Vietnam War, and argued that the UK should have a pro-active policy of seeking peace.[16] By the second half of 1965 Walston was in fact pushing this line harder than Cable himself.[17] In June 1966 Walston was passing through South Vietnam on an envoy mission, when he was contacted by Janusz Lewandowski, who said he was acting for the Polish government and attempting to find peace in the Vietnam War. Walston, however, treated this as a freelance approach.[18]

Following Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) Walston was envoy to Portugal, attempting to negotiate an end to sanction-breaking pumping of oil to Southern Rhodesia via Beira, Mozambique.[19] His diplomacy was overtaken by Security Council resolution 221 of 9 April 1966.[20] As a Foreign Office junior minister, Walston argued that the UK government should not grant Rhodesian independence except on terms of majority rule. While Rhodesia was the responsibility of the Commonwealth Relations Office, he maintained that UDI had increased the chances of communist penetration in Africa and that this was a proper concern of the Foreign Office.[21]

During this time at the Foreign Office, Walston was a trustee of one of John Collins's secret Christian Action trusts, channelling funds to the African National Congress.[22] He expressed very positive feelings about Fidel Castro.[23] Walston was then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in 1967.[14]

Later political life

On a lecture tour of South Africa in 1968, Walston had private discussions with B. J. Vorster, and as a consequence attempted to open a channel of communication to Kenneth Kaunda.[24] He also visited Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, concluding that the prisoner Mandela was being well treated. At this period the South African government wished to broker a deal between the UK and Ian Smith, and to use Walston's contacts.[25]

Walston was a member of the Council of Europe between 1970 and 1975, and a Member of the European Parliament from 1975 to 1977. In the period from 1970 to 1976 Labour politicians met in his apartment in The Albany, forming a retrospectively-christened "Walston group" of pro-European MPs.[26] Walston joined the Social Democratic Party in 1981.During the eighties, Walston became active with the UN accredited non-governmental organisation -Agri-Energy Roundtable and served as vice chairman for several years.


Walston published political pamphlets on agricultural topics:


See also



  1. William D. Rubinstein; Michael Jolles; Hilary L. Rubinstein (15 March 2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 1003. ISBN 978-1-4039-3910-4. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46777. p. 4. 30 December 1975. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  3. Lord Walston, Thoughts on Southern Africa, African Affairs Vol. 63, No. 250 (Jan. 1964), pp. 23–31. Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal African Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/719760
  4. Richard English (26 March 1998). Ernie O'Malley: IRA Intellectual: IRA Intellectual. Oxford University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-19-151339-8. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. Adam Nicolson (2009). Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. pp. 308–9. ISBN 978-0-00-724055-5. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  6. Graham Greene: Fictions, Faith and Authorship. Continuum International Publishing Group. 20 May 2010. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-84706-339-7. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. Betty Boothroyd (5 November 2002). Betty Boothroyd Autobiography. Random House UK. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-09-942704-9. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  8. David Lodge (29 February 2012). The Practice of Writing. Random House. pp. 58–9. ISBN 978-1-4481-2985-0. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. Sherry, p. 624.
  10. Hartley-Brewer, Julia (23 March 2000). "Speaker wins £10,000 damages over sex slur". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  11. "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1945: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 8 Sept. 2014.
  12. The London Gazette: no. 42274. p. 1016. 10 February 1961. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  13. Hugh Wilford (2003). The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War: Calling the Tune?. Frank Cass. pp. 297–. ISBN 978-0-7146-5435-5. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  14. 1 2 Betty Boothroyd (5 November 2002). Betty Boothroyd Autobiography. Random House UK. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-09-942704-9. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  15. William Roger Louis; Stephen R. Ashton (2004). East of Suez and the Commonwealth 1964–1971: Part 2: Europe, Rhodesia, Commonwealth. The Stationery Office. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-11-290583-7. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  16. Sylvia Ellis. Britain, America, and the Vietnam War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-275-97381-0. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  17. Sylvia Ellis. Britain, America, and the Vietnam War. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 111–2. ISBN 978-0-275-97381-0. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  18. James Hershberg (11 January 2012). Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam. Stanford University Press. pp. 120–1. ISBN 978-0-8047-8388-0. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  19. J. R. T. Wood (November 2012). 'A Matter of Weeks Rather Than Months': The Impasse Between Harold Wilson and Ian Smith: Sanctions, Aborted Settlements and War 1965–1969. Trafford Publishing. pp. 71–2. ISBN 978-1-4669-3410-8. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  20. Filipe De Meneses (1 November 2009). Salazar: A Political Biography. Enigma Books. p. 541 note 124. ISBN 978-1-929631-98-8. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  21. William Roger Louis; Stephen R. Ashton (2004). East of Suez and the Commonwealth 1964–1971: Part 1: East of Suez. The Stationery Office. pp. lxxiv–lxxv. ISBN 978-0-11-290582-0. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  22. Dennis Herbstein (2004). White Lies: Canon Collins and the Secret War Against Apartheid. James Currey Publishers. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-85255-885-0. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  23. Sherry, p. 449.
  24. Nolutshungu, Sam C (1975). South Africa in Africa: A Study in Ideology and Foreign Policy. Manchester University Press. p. 236 note 159. ISBN 978-0-7190-0579-4. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  25. Betty Boothroyd (5 November 2002). Betty Boothroyd Autobiography. Random House UK. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-09-942704-9. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  26. Patrick Bell (12 November 2012). The Labour Party in Opposition 1970–1974. Routledge. pp. 407–. ISBN 978-1-136-34687-3. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  27. From Forces to Farming. A Plan for the Ex-Service Man. by Harry Walston. Review by: G. M. R. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944–) Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr. 1945), p. 273. Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3016403
  28. John Mackie; Henry Walston, Baron Walston (1958). Land Nationalisation: For and Against. Fabian Society. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  29. Fabian Society 79th Annual Report, July 1961 – June 1962, p. 15; archive.org.
  30. Agriculture under Communism, by Lord Walston. Review by: Thomas Barman. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944–) Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan. 1963), p. 124. Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2610561
  31. Baron Henry David Leonard George Walston Walston (1970). Farm gate to Brussels. Fabian Society. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  32. Harry Walston (8 July 1976). Dealing with Hunger. Bodley Head. Retrieved 2 May 2013.

External links

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