|Member of Parliament
for Romsey and Southampton North
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Sandra Gidley|
|Born||26 June 1972|
|Alma mater||University of Sussex|
Caroline Fiona Ellen Nokes (née Perry) (born 26 June 1972), MP, is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. She is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Romsey and Southampton North in Hampshire.
Nokes was born in Lyndhurst Hospital, but raised in West Wellow, the Hampshire village in which she still lives. She was educated at The Romsey School, La Sagesse Convent in Romsey and then Peter Symonds' College, Winchester, going on to read politics at the University of Sussex from 1991 to 1994.
After graduating, Nokes became a policy adviser for her father, a Member of the European Parliament. Prior to her election, she was Chief Executive of the National Pony Society, an animal welfare charity promoting and supporting the traditional native breeds of ponies through education, training and competition.
Nokes was a member of Test Valley Borough Council from 1999 until 2010, when she was elected as a Councillor for the Romsey Extra Ward, serving as the Leisure Portfolio Holder. She stood down as a Councillor when she was elected to Parliament in May 2010.
Nokes was alleged to be one of the parliamentary candidates who signed a pledge to "respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience". She has also stated she was 'broadly supportive' of same-sex marriage providing religious organisations are not forced to act against their theology. In February 2013, she cited her support for stable and secure relationships, both gay and straight, but also referenced her previous pledge to Christians, and voted against The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at Second Reading, saying she was 'not convinced the safeguards sought by the Church of England have been guaranteed'.
In August 2011, Nokes went on a Parliametary delegation to Equatorial Guinea, an African country criticised for its human rights record. The decision to visit the country was criticised by a Labour MP. But others commended the delegation for its bravery in going, and for publishing a balanced report which was critical of the regime. Nokes said her decision to go was because Amnesty International were no longer active in the country, and information about Equatorial Guinea was possibly outdated. The delegation had Foreign Office support, and was asked to assess if historic reports of the country were still valid. The delegation met with the country's Prime Minister, whom the delegation challenged about the country's human rights record. Nokes went on to call for EG's president to instigate proper democracy and permit press freedom.
Nokes is a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee and lists her particular interests as international development, sport, the equine industry, the environment, energy, animal welfare, family law, local government and planning. She has recently spoken in debates on planning policy, reforming the Child Support Agency, Family Based Agreements, Adoption, and the closure of the Ford plant in her constituency. She has also introduced legislation on Dangerous Dogs, and in January 2011, the Consumer Protection Bill. With her professional background in equine welfare, Nokes is an expert on equine issues, and a member of a Parliamentary group for equine welfare. Nokes sat on the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill Committee, and was a member of the Justice and Security Bill Committee. She also sat on the Children and Families Bill Committee which scrutinises a bill designed to improve legislation affecting fostered and adopted children, children in care, children with Special Educational Needs, and the family justice system. Before her election, Nokes endorsed the controversial campaign group Fathers4Justice campaign for reform of the family law system but the group then declared 'war' against Nokes after accusing her of breaking her promises to them. Nokes is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children.
In October 2011, Nokes was one of 81 Conservative MPs to rebel against her party over the EU. Nokes publicly called for a referendum on British membership of the EU, which later became Conservative Party policy.
In October 2012 Nokes became an officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which campaigns to raise awareness of body image, eating disorders, nutrition and health issues within the advertising industry, the health and fitness sector, media, youth organisations and Government.
Nokes maded her Maiden Speech on 17 June 2010 on the subject of a High Skilled Economy. Nokes is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, has spoken in 37 separate debates in the twelve months to March 2013, and has an above average voting record.
Fathers4Justice Harassment of Nokes
In April 2010, Fathers4Justice members backed Caroline Nokes as her party had supported its campaign for change to family law, promising legislation if they won the 2010 General election. However, at the election, the Conservatives did not win an overall majority, and formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, based upon a 'Coalition Agreement', which included aspects of the Fathers4Justice agenda. This included encouraging shared parenting and promised a comprehensive review of family law in order to increase the use of mediation when couples do break up, and to look at how best to provide greater access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents. In accordance with the Coalition Agreement, the Government initiated a number of reviews, including the Family Justice Review (The Norgrove Report) and the Co-operative Parenting Consultation, to which the Government responded. After the consultations, the Government brought forward the Children & Families Bill, designed to legislate on a number of areas, including the family legal system; specifically on contact orders, improving post-separation mediation, and on the issue of shared parenting, plans to amend the Children Act (1989) to introduce a new presumption in favour of a child having a relationship with both parents - all areas upon which Fathers4Justice has campaigned, and on which the Conservative Party had agreed to act if elected to power. Whilst legal experts agreed these proposals were a considerable improvement on the previous situation it did not fully reflect the position of Fathers4Justice, and the group criticised the Coalition for not implementing its agenda in full.
The Justice Select Committee considered the draft Children & Families Bill in 'pre-legislative hearings', and invited Fathers4Justice to submit its evidence to support its agenda. The group chose to not do so, applying 'late' to give oral evidence, and on issues outside the remit of the Committee. In March 2013 Nokes announced she had been asked to sit on the legislative 'Bill Committee' responsible for scrutinising the Bill, and publicly asked Fathers4Justice to submit their amendments so she could table them on the group's behalf. Nokes also acknowledged the group's agenda and asked them to "help me deliver it." However, the group refused Nokes' offer to table amendments, and called on her to resign from the committee. After she refused to do so the group declared 'war' on Nokes, and despite Nokes' appeals to the group to help her deliver it, accused her of betraying her commitment to their agenda, and began a campaign against her. The group organised a demonstration in Nokes constituency, for which they were criticised by local residents, encouraged their members to visit Nokes' family home at night, posted late-night Tweets saying they were driving around her village 'looking for' her, asked members to send the MP their dirty underwear, demanded to see a Court Order outlining her daughter's living and contact arrangements, and falsely alleged her ex-husband was having difficulty having contact with his daughter.
Nokes commented in her local newspaper; "I have been accused of many things, including being an obstructive mother who denies her ex-husband access to our child. This is a completely baseless fabrication which nevertheless they repeat ad nauseam. I have even had to involve the police over concerns for my daughter's safety. If F4J really want to deliver for their members, bullying, vadalising portraits of HM the Queen and harassing my constituents will not deliver it. They should have engaged with the legislative process when they were asked, and are now in danger of losing what little credibility they have left as a campaign group. The only people betrayed are F4J members who have been let down by the O'Connors." After she, and others, had been subjected to abuse and harassment, and following complaints by her and others to the Police, Nokes finally broke-off contact with the group.
In response to complaints from Nokes and others, Twitter warned the group, and its founder Matt O'Connor, that they would have their accounts suspended if they continued to abuse and harass Nokes. The warnings were ignored and Twitter suspended the two accounts in June 2013. Despite the warnings from Twitter about their abusive behaviour, Fathers4Justice claimed the suspension was political censorship. However, the local media reported the group had been engaged in a 'witch hunt' against Ms. Nokes, who pointed out she had “....repeatedly offered to help Fathers 4 Justice with the tabling of amendments for the Children and Families Bill, but none were forthcoming, just comments, which Twitter agreed constituted abuse and harassment. I am aware other political parties and individuals have also complained to Twitter and indeed to the police." She also stated “I remain committed to improvements to the family justice system, which the Children and Families Bill goes some way towards delivering, and it is a pity F4J chose not to engage constructively with the deliberations of the Bill Committee.”.
In February 2014, Nokes criticised a Lords' amendment to the Children & Families Bill which she said 'watered down' the commitment to shared parenting, and spoke against the amendment in the House of Commons, arguing strongly in favour of shared parenting, saying shared parenting arrangements were in the best interests of children.
Nokes is divorced, and lives with her daughter.
In June 2010, a newspaper alleged Nokes and a family friend had been filmed by a camera hidden in a hotel ceiling, that Nokes found the camera and handed it to the Police, who witnessed illegally filmed sexual activity. However, another national newspaper suggested the allegations were untrue. It pointed out the Police would have been obliged to investigate any covertly obtained footage, asked why Nokes would have handed Police a camera containing such compromising footage, why, if the camera contained such footage, the Police did not then investigate as they would have been obliged to do. This raised questions over whether the camera ever existed, and if it did, if it contained covertly filmed sexual activity. The paper which made the original allegation then confirmed there had been no camera hidden in the room. Successful legal action followed. Nokes said she had 'been betrayed by a friend' and her family and then husband dismissed the allegations. In 2012 Nokes stated claims of a relationship were inaccurate and entirely false
- "Caroline Nokes MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- "List of Members returned to serve in Parliament at the General Election 2010". London Gazette. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
- "Caroline Nokes". Conservative Party website. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Gidley goes as Tories win Romsey". Southern Daily Echo. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Lib Dem's Sandra Gidley loses seat after 10 years". BBC News. 7 May 2010.
- "Caroline Nokes wins in Romsey". This is Hampshire. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- "Elected Representatives: Mrs Caroline Nokes, Borough Councillor". Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Nokes backs gay marriage but won’t sign Labour petition". Romsey Advertiser. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- United Kingdom general election, 2010
- ["https://www.facebook.com/Fathers4Justice/posts/10151781049298804" "Nokes Secures twitter takedown"]. Facebook - Fathers4Justice.
- "Romsey MP Caroline Nokes and husband divorce".
- name="Nokes divorce">"Romsey MP Caroline Nokes and husband divorce".
- name="Nokes divorce">"Romsey MP Caroline Nokes and husband divorce".
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Romsey and Southampton North Conservatives
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Romsey and Southampton North