Barbara Follett (politician)
|Minister for Local Government|
22 September 2009 – 6 May 2010
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Sarah McCarthy-Fry|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Stunell|
|Minister for Culture and Tourism|
4 October 2008 – 22 September 2009
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Margaret Hodge|
|Succeeded by||Margaret Hodge|
|Member of Parliament
1 May 1997 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Tim Wood|
|Succeeded by||Stephen McPartland|
|Born||Daphne Barbara Hubbard
25 December 1942
|Spouse(s)||Richard Turner 1963
|Residence||London, Hertfordshire, Cape Town and Antigua|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics
Daphne Barbara Follett (née Hubbard, born 25 December 1942) is a former British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stevenage from 1997 until 2010. Follett served in the Government as Minister for Culture and Tourism from 2008 to 2009, and as Minister for Local Government from 2009 to 2010. She was a highly notable case in the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal having overclaimed the highest amount of expenses of any MP in the country.
She was born Daphne Barbara Hubbard in Kingston, Jamaica, where her father was an insurance executive. In 1946 the family returned, first to Jersey then in 1947 to Billericay, Essex. In 1952 the family moved to Ethiopia. In 1957 after an unfortunate incident involving her alcoholic father, a toast and a drinks trolley, the family were asked to leave the country and went to Cape Town in South Africa. She began a University degree in Art, but in 1962 had to give it up and started work with Barclays Bank.
She married Richard Turner in 1963 and they went to Paris where she worked for the Berlitz School of Languages. They returned to South Africa in 1966 to run his mother's fruit farm in Stellenbosch. In 1969 she started working for Kupugani, an organisation that provided cheap food for the poor.
In 1970, on the breakdown of her marriage, she became acting Regional Secretary at the Institute of Race Relations. She worked again for Kupugani from 1971 to 1978. After a brief marriage to Gerald Stonestreet, she married architect Les Broer. The family fled back to England in 1978, shortly after her ex-husband Richard Turner, a prominent anti-apartheid activist, was assassinated. They lived in Farnham in Surrey, where she worked for the Centre for International Briefing, and joined the Labour Party.
Follett stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidate for Woking in the 1983 general election. In 1985 she married author Ken Follett. From 1984 to 1992 she was a freelance lecturer and consultant, contesting Epsom and Ewell for Labour in 1987. She joined the Fawcett Society and the National Alliance of Women's Organisations and jointly founded the Labour Women's Network in 1987. She obtained a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics, and was Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (1993–97). She is also an alumnus of the Open University. She became a patron of Action on Pre-Eclampsia.
The 1997 General Election saw Follett elected as MP for Stevenage. She has served on many groups and committees, and is a member of the Fabian Society. In November 2005, she became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Tessa Jowell. In June 2007 she was promoted to become Minister for the East of England and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Government Equalities Office supporting the Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman. Following Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle of 3 October 2008, Follett was made Minister of Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport replacing Margaret Hodge who went on compassionate leave caring for her ill husband. In the reshuffle of June 2009 Follett lost her responsibility for Creative Industries, which passed to the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the department, Siôn Simon. As of 22 September 2009, Follett was demoted to a junior minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, after Margaret Hodge returned to government to take the portfolio back as Tourism Minister after her compassionate leave of absence.
Following the controversy generated by the public disclouse of her expense Follett announced her decision to stand down at the 2010 general election on 1 October 2009. She cited a desire to spend more time with her family as her motivation for standing down. Her successor as Labour candidate, Sharon Taylor, failed to hold the seat.
In 2001, Follett appeared in the television satire programme Brass Eye, in a special which satirised media hysteria towards the issue of paedophilia. In the programme, she was duped into giving fake warnings about an online game called "Pantu the dog", claiming on camera that a paedophile had converted the dogs eye into a webcam in order to see the child player. Follett went on to demonstrate how the paedophile would wear a t-shirt with a small illustration of a child's body on it in order to disguise themselves as another child, as well as how the paedophiles get children to press their faces against the screen, using special gloves to touch them. Follett complained to the BSC and ITC about being duped into appearing into the programme. The BSC noted that the programme makers had deliberately given warning signals to suggest the material might be dubious and thus rejected Follett's complaints against the show as it successfully revealed the dangers of how public figures were willing to speak "with apparent authority about matters they do not understand".
In May 2008 following the release of details of MPs expenses it emerged that the taxpayer had paid in excess of £1,600 for window cleaning of Follett's London flat in a single year. Further still, the invoices for the work were addressed to her husband.
In May of the following year, The Daily Telegraph alleged that she claimed more than £25,000 for private security patrols at her London home after she was mugged. Follett was also criticised for claiming £120,000 in expenses from the taxpayer over 6 years to pay for a London flat when she already owned one property in the capital. Additionally, commuting to London from her main home in Stevenage takes less than 30 minutes by rail. It was also revealed that Follett had claimed £528.75 to repair and clean a Chinese rug, though only £300 of the claim was actually accepted as the amount was deemed excessive.
In February 2010, following a review of all MP's expenses it was revealed that Follett had claimed more in dubious expenses than any other MP. This led some newspapers to brand her "The Expenses Queen". Additional items she was ordered to repay included £4,454 for having six phone lines at her property and £2,812 for insuring her fine art collection. Follet also claimed twice for boiler insurance and for pest control at a property which wasn't actually her second home.
Follett had initially insisted all her claims were justified, but following significant criticism she changed her position and agreed to repay £32,976 for the security patrols and other similarly extravagant claims. The rest of the money she owed was repaid later. Follett apologised, stating "I did try to act as honestly as possible but where I failed, I am sorry".
She is married to Ken Follett. They own two properties in London, one in Knebworth, a property in Cape Town and a holiday home in Antigua. She has two daughters, Jann and Kim. Since leaving Parliament she has become CEO of his company, who have offices in Stevenage.
- "MP Follett to repay largest sum". BBC News. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Barbara Follett official biography". 2009-10-09.
- Kirkup, James (2009-10-01). "Barbara Follett steps down as MP in wake of expenses disclosures". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "brass eye pedophile special. iternet stalkers". YouTube. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- Deans, Jason (2002-01-31). "MP loses Brass Eye battle | Media | MediaGuardian". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- "Daily Telegraph article on Follett's expenses". London: Telegraph.co.uk. 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- Max Hastings (2008-05-26). "These expense claims mean we must call time on parliament's petty fiddling". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Beckford, Martin (2009-05-08). "Daily Telegraph article on Follett's expenses". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- UngoedThomas, Jon; Watt, Holly (2007-10-28). "Buy-to-let Barbie cashes in on MPs' housing perk". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- Firth, Niall (2009-10-02). "Barbara Follett to stand down as Labour MP following row over £25,000 expenses claim for private security". Daily Mail (London).
- Wright, Stephen; Chapman, James (2010-02-05). "Shaming of the 389 greedy MPs who went too far". Daily Mail (London).
- Kirkup, James (2009-10-01). "Barbara Follett steps down as MP in wake of expenses disclosures". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Firth, Niall. "Barbara Follett to stand down as Labour MP following row over £25,000 expenses claim for private security". Daily Mail (London).
- Walker, Tim (2009-09-30). "Barbara Follett, the original Blair babe, 'preparing to quit the Commons'". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Still in the duck house? Life after the expenses row". London: Independent. 2010-11-11. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Jones, George (2001-06-19). "How Blair's New Labour went flat for champagne socialists". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Barbara Follett (politician).|
- Official Website
- Government Equalities Office
- Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Barbara Follett MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com - Barbara Follett MP
- The Public Whip - Barbara Follett MP voting record
- Childhood memories
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Barbara Follett
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Stevenage
|Minister for Culture and Tourism
|Minister for Local Government