Caroline Spelman

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The Right Honourable
Caroline Spelman
Caroline Spelman Official.jpg
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Succeeded by Owen Paterson
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
19 January 2009 – 12 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Eric Pickles
Succeeded by John Denham
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
2 July 2007 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Local and Devolved Government Affairs (2004–2005)
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005–2006)
In office
15 March 2004 – 2 July 2007
Leader Michael Howard
David Cameron
Preceded by David Curry
Succeeded by Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
10 November 2003 – 15 March 2004
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by David Lidington (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Succeeded by Richard Ottaway
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
18 September 2001 – 10 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Gary Streeter
Succeeded by John Bercow
Member of Parliament
for Meriden
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Iain Mills
Majority 16,253 (31.2%)
Personal details
Born (1958-05-04) 4 May 1958 (age 56)
Bishop's Stortford, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Mark Spelman
Children 3
Alma mater Queen Mary University of London
Religion Anglicanism[1]
Website Official website

Caroline Alice Spelman (née Cormack; born 4 May 1958) is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. From May 2010 to September 2012[2] she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in David Cameron's coalition cabinet, and was sworn as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.[3]


Born in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, Spelman attended Herts and Essex High School for Girls (now called The Hertfordshire and Essex High School), in Warwick Road, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, and received a BA First Class in European Studies from Queen Mary College, University of London.

Early career[edit]

She was Sugar Beet commodity secretary for the National Farmer's Union from 1981 to 1984. She was deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (officially known as La Confédération Internationale des Betteraviers Européens – CIBE) in Paris from 1984–9, then a research fellow for the Centre for European Agricultural Studies (part of the University of Kent and since 2000 known as the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics) from 1989 to 1993. She co-owns Spelman, Cormack & Associates, a lobbying firm for the food and biotechnology industry, with her husband.[4] Based in Dorridge (her constituency is in the Borough of Solihull).

Parliamentary career[edit]

Before entering Parliament in 1997, she stood unsuccessfully in the Bassetlaw constituency in Nottinghamshire at the 1992 general election.

In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith appointed Spelman Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, a post she maintained until Duncan Smith's departure as Conservative Party leader. Duncan Smith's successor, Michael Howard, opted for a streamlined Shadow Cabinet and omitted Spelman; however, he later appointed her as a front bench spokeswoman on Environmental Affairs working for Theresa May. In March 2004, Spelman re-entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government Affairs, succeeding David Curry. Under David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2007 she was promoted further to become Conservative Party Chairman. In 2009 she was moved in another reshuffle to the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Eric Pickles. Since the reshuffle, Spelman has returned to the Commons backbenches.


In 2009, during the expenses scandal it was reported that Spelman had received £40,000 for cleaning and bills for her constituency home; this was despite her husband claiming it was their main home. In 2008 she reportedly over-claimed hundreds of pounds towards her council tax.[4]

"Nannygate" controversy[edit]

On 6 June 2008, Spelman was the subject of controversy when it was suggested that for around twelve months from May 1997 she paid her child's nanny, Tina Haynes, from her parliamentary staffing allowance, contrary to the rule governing such allowances and fears of the misuse of them. Spelman claims that her nanny also acted as her constituency secretary and was paid from the public taxpayers' purse for this aspect of her further employment. Haynes confirms that occasionally she would answer phone calls and post documents but initially she denied such happenings when interviewed on BBC Two's Newsnight via telephone. The accusations came at a time when Conservative Party leader David Cameron had tasked Spelman with reviewing the use of parliamentary allowances by Conservative MPs and MEPs in the wake of the Derek Conway affair.[5] The allegation against Spelman came shortly after two Conservative MEPs, Giles Chichester (Leader of the Conservatives in the EU Parliament) and Den Dover (Conservative Chief Whip in the EU Parliament), were forced to resign amid claims they misused their parliamentary allowances. However, Spelman was not urged to resign by party leader, David Cameron. She referred the matter pertaining to herself, her nanny and parliamentary funds to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.[6] Senior Conservative colleagues including former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis stated their support for Spelman.[7]

New revelations were exposed on the BBC's Newsnight programme that nine years previously Mrs Spelman's secretary, Sally Hammond, complained to the Conservative Party leadership that she was using Parliamentary allowances to pay her nanny and that the arrangement with the nanny was over a two-year period and not one. [8]

In March 2009, the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee ruled Mrs Spelman had misused her allowances to pay for nannying work in 1997 and 1998.

Privacy injunction[edit]

On 24 February 2012, the High Court in London refused to continue a privacy injunction previously granted to prevent the publication of a news item in the Daily Star Sunday involving her son. Judge Michael Tugendhat said that the injunction was "not necessary or proportionate".[9] On 2 March 2012, the Spelmans decided not to appeal against the decision, which permitted the publication of a story about her son.[10] The Spelman family was required to pay the legal costs of the Daily Star Sunday, in addition to their own legal costs of £60,994.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

She married Mark Spelman, a senior partner at Accenture, on 25 April 1987 in south-east Kent. They have two sons and a daughter. Her husband stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2009 European elections for the West Midlands region.

The couple own a constituency home, a London townhouse and a villa in Algarve, Portugal,[13] Her wealth is estimated as £1.5m.[14]

She is a Patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.[15]


  1. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons. "House of Commons - Mrs Caroline Spelman - Standards and Privileges Committee". Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Green groups' concern over Owen Paterson record". BBC News. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "The new ruling class". NewStatesman. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Tory MP paid nanny from expenses, BBC
  6. ^ Tory chairman Caroline Spelman to meet standards commissioner over nanny expenses, Daily Telegraph 7 June 2008
  7. ^ Tories rally round Spelman Yahoo! News 8 June 2008
  8. ^ "MPs call for Spelman to be sacked". BBC News. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  9. ^ "Caroline Spelman's son loses privacy injunction bid". BBC News. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Caroline Spelman's son 'took drugs after sports injury'". BBC News. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Cabinet Minister's Son Sorry Over Drug Use". Sky News. 2 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Tom Savage (26 February 2012). "Court Win for the Daily Star Sunday".  (The Daily Star Sunday was party to the legal action)
  13. ^ Worden, Tom (15 March 2009). ""Nannygate" Tory Caroline Spelman's properties worth nearly £5million". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  14. ^ Glen Owen The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories Mail on Sunday 23 May 2010
  15. ^ "CCF Patrons". Conservative Christian Fellowship. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Audio clips
Video clips
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Iain Mills
Member of Parliament
for Meriden

Political offices
Preceded by
David Curry
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
Eric Pickles
Preceded by
Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
John Denham
Preceded by
Hilary Benn
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Owen Paterson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Francis Maude
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Eric Pickles