|Member of Parliament
for North West Leicestershire
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||David Taylor|
28 October 1964 |
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
|Alma mater||Nottingham University|
Andrew James Bridgen (born 28 October 1964) is a Conservative Party politician and businessman. Since May 2010 he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of North West Leicestershire.
Bridgen was born in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. He attended Netherseal Junior School and then the state comprehensive school The Pingle School in Swadlincote, where he gained 11 O-Levels and 4 A-Levels. He went on to study genetics and behaviour at Nottingham University, graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences.
Military and business career
After graduation Bridgen trained as an officer in the Royal Marines. He returned home at 23 to help with the family market gardening business. Alongside his brother Paul he diversified the business into the production of pre-washed potatoes and vegetables. They formed AB Produce in 1988, which is based in Measham and currently employs around 230 staff. Bridgen is a former winner of the 'Young Executive of the Year UK' and 'Young Director of the Year (Midlands) Medium sized business' awards. Bridgen became the East Midlands chairman of the Institute of Directors.
In May 2009 he intervened in the "dirty tricks row" involving a councillor who had offered Conservative backing to ensure a village hall was built if an independent election candidate stood down. Bridgen blamed "intransigence of certain unelected individuals at the very top of the county council" rather than the individual councillors involved. Both Labour and Conservative council leaders criticised his intervention and the Council solicitor wrote to ask for an explanation. There was a police investigation and although he denied wrongdoing one of the councillors subsequently stood down.
Bridgen won the North West Leicestershire seat at the general election on 6 May, becoming the first Conservative MP for the area in thirteen years. The seat had been vacant since the previous MP, David Taylor, had died of a sudden heart attack on Boxing Day, 2009.
Following very serious injury to a constituent in July 2011, Bridgen called for legislation to ensure Britons travelling abroad have adequate medical insurance.
In January 2013, Bridgen, interviewed on BBC Radio's PM programme, stated that good MPs were being put off by poor pay and were having to ask their families to make sacrifices. Bridgen, who claimed he was one of the few MPs willing to speak publicly, said his colleagues were getting poorer and although he knew what the terms were and had no complaints, he foresaw a reduction in diversity of people willing to stand if the issue wasn't addressed. Bridgen, who receives an additional £7,773 per month for 6 hours work at his vegetable firm was criticised by local Labour politicians for being 'out of touch.'
In 2010 Bridgen became a member of the Regulatory Reform Select Committee. He has also sat on a number of Bill Committees, and was a member of the Advisory Panel to Professor Löfstedt’s report on Health and Safety 
Bridgen has been a critic of David Cameron, at one point calling for a change in leadership of the Party. However, Bridgen later withdrew a Letter of No Confidence, expressing renewed support for David Cameron, but expressing concerns over High Speed 2.
Bridgen has been a consistent critic of High Speed 2 (HS2), casting doubt on the economic benefits associated with the proposals, and the costs of the programme. He warned the Government the proposals were "toxic".
In 2014, Bridgen lead calls to have non-payment of the TV Licence Fee made a civil rather than a criminal matter, criticising the prosecution of people for non-payment, who in most cases are women. Bridgen described the licence fee as "an anachronism which discriminates against the poorest in society"  and criticised prosecuting people "whose only crime is being poor". The Government later adopted Bridgen's proposal which was also supported by the Labour Party though the BBC said the potential loss of £200m could lead to closure of channels.
Bridgen also forced a Government U-Turn over plans for military intervention in Syria after he organised a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 81 fellow Conservative MPs, demanding Parliament be given a vote on whether the UK should send military assistance to Syria. Bridgen later stated his support for air-strikes against ISIS terrorists in Iraq.
Bridgen also successfully campaigned to reduce the cost of family holidays, by getting the Government to cut the Passenger Air Duty for children, a move backed by travel operators. Bridgen told the Government scraping the duty "...will make a huge difference to hard working families looking to go abroad for a family holiday or to visit friends and relatives, as well as encouraging more visits to the UK by overseas families".
Bridgen also sought to highlight the risks of head injuries associated with sporting injuries. He is a supporter of reform of the Pub industry, supporting moves to introduce a Market Rent Option for tied tenant publicans. Bridgen is a supporter of the "Fair Deal For Your Local" campaign.
Bridgen is separated from Jackie, who was a Conservative councillor for the Oakthorpe and Donisthorpe ward of North West Leicestershire District Council from 2007 until losing her seat in 2011. They have two young sons though Bridgen separated from his wife sometime in early 2011.
On 9 June 2011 false allegations of sexual assault were levelled against Bridgen, leading to his arrest in London by the Metropolitan Police and subsequent release on bail. A week later the allegations were retracted as untrue, and police said no further action would be taken. In comments to the Daily Mail, Bridgen claimed the incident, and the false allegations "ruined his life". He was divorced shortly after the incident. In January 2015 it emerged his accuser, Annabelle Fuller, a woman rumoured to be the ex-lover of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, was interviewed under caution on suspicion of making false allegations against Bridgen. Fuller was reported to the police by a third-party who had been sent messages by Fuller about the incident, which lead to Fuller's arrest.
- "Andrew Bridgen MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- "MP's fury at sex attack claim". Express.co.uk. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Polly Curtis (9 June 2011). "Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen arrested on suspicion of sexual assault". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 June 2011.
- "Tory told to prove 'dirty tricks' allegations". Leicester Mercury. 30 May 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- "'Dirty tricks' deputy leader stands down". Leicester Mercury. 11 Jun 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- "Election 2010 | Constituency | Leicestershire North West". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Tory blasts 'Stalinist elements' in fightback over NHS shake-up". London Evening Standard. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
- "Bali case leads to call for compulsory travel cover". 23 September 2011.
- Dan Martin (12 January 2012). "Do you think £65,738 is too little for MPs to earn?". ThisisLeicestershire. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "MP quizzed over sex assault claim". BBC News. 9 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
- "Mine threat to children". Burton Mail. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
- "Rivals make inroads but again the Conservatives are smiling". Burton Mail. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
- "Biography on Andrew Bridgen's official website". Andrewbridgen.com. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "MP Andrew Bridgen arrested over sexual assault claims". London: The Telegraph. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
- "Andrew Bridgen MP denies sexual assault claim". BBC News. 10 June 2011. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- Stratton, Allegra (16 June 2011). "Andrew Bridgen sexual assault case dropped". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2011.