A 73-year-old man who has a criminal record for being in a gay relationship in the 1950s has applied to have his conviction removed.

In October, the law quashing historic convictions for consensual gay sex came into force, meaning that gay men previously convicted under the rules can now apply to have their police records wiped.

Plans to change the law were announced by David Cameron on PinkNews.co.uk before the 2010 general election.

John Crawford, from Marylebone, central London, only found out he had a criminal record when he applied for voluntary work.

He told the BBC: “I looked back over my life and realised that all the work I’d lost over the years was due to this criminal record.”

Those affected need to apply to the Home secretary for a formal disregard of their convictions.

Mr Crawford discovered he had a record when he applied to help gay prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs Prison in Shepherd’s Bush, west London.

He said: “I was horrified. I was so upset I walked out.”

The former butler received a year’s conditional discharge at Winchester Crown Court in 1959.

He said: “It was something that gays had to go through in those days.

“If you were gay you were in trouble with the police.

“Gay guys don’t realise how lucky they are to be able to kiss in the street. In my time in the ’50s you’d be arrested instantly.”

He added: “I came into this world without a criminal record and I don’t want to die with a criminal record.”