In 2001 London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a partnership registration service for same sex couples. The registrations recognised the partnership of the individuals but did not confer any legal rights. The new register was called the London Partnerships Register. The register was open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.
The first couple to take advantage of the scheme, which pre-dated Civil Partnerships and demonstrated the need and desirability of giving same sex couples rights, were Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell, who had been together already for 38 years.
They had a five-minute ceremony conducted by Rob Coward, a specially-trained officer with Greater London Authority.
Couples taking part in the ceremony received a certificate but the register was not made available to the public for confidentiality reasons. The register was designed to be self-financing, charging couples £85 to register their details.
The Greater London Authority was the first public body in the United Kingdom to recognise same-sex relationships as being on a par with heterosexual partnerships.