Chris Grayling

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The Right Honourable
Chris Grayling
MP
Chris Grayling Official.jpg
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Secretary of State for Justice
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Kenneth Clarke
Minister of State for Employment
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jim Knight
Succeeded by Mark Hoban
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Dominic Grieve
Succeeded by Alan Johnson
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
2 July 2007 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Philip Hammond
Succeeded by Theresa May
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
6 December 2005 – 2 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Tim Yeo
Succeeded by Theresa Villiers
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
10 May 2005 – 6 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Oliver Heald
Succeeded by Theresa May
Member of Parliament
for Epsom and Ewell
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Archie Hamilton
Majority 16,447 (33.0%)
Personal details
Born Christopher Stephen Grayling
(1962-04-01) 1 April 1962 (age 52)
Marylebone, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Social Democrat (formerly)[1]
Spouse(s) Susan Clare Dillistone
Children 2
Residence London
Alma mater Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Religion Anglican
Website www.justice.gov.uk

Christopher Stephen Grayling (born 1 April 1962) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice since 2012.

First elected to Parliament in 2001 for Epsom and Ewell, he was first appointed to the Shadow Cabinet of David Cameron in 2005 as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. From 2007 he became the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and in 2009 he was appointed Shadow Home Secretary. Following the 2010 general election and the formation of the Coalition Government, Grayling was made the Minister of State for Employment.[2]

In September 2012, he was appointed to the Cabinet in a reshuffle, replacing Kenneth Clarke as the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. He is the first non-lawyer to have served as Lord Chancellor for at least 440 years. It was reported that the last such non-lawyer was Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3;[3] however the Earl was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1638.[4]

Early life[edit]

Grayling was born in London and grew up in Buckinghamshire, where he was educated at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. He then went to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an upper-second class Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1984.

Early adulthood[edit]

Grayling joined BBC News in 1985 as a trainee, becoming a producer in 1986. He left the BBC in 1988 to join Channel 4 as an editor on its Business Daily television programme. He rejoined the BBC in 1991 as a business development manager on BBC Select. On leaving the BBC again in 1993, he ran several television production companies, including managing the corporate communications division of Workhouse Ltd from 1992–95 and SSVC Group in Gerrards Cross from 1995–97. He became a management consultant in 1997 with Burson Marsteller, where he remained until his election to Parliament.

Prior to joining the Conservative Party, Grayling was a member of the Social Democratic Party.[5]

Political career[edit]

Borough Councillor (1998-2002)[edit]

Grayling was selected to contest the Labour-held marginal seat of Warrington South at the 1997 general election, but was defeated by Labour candidate Helen Southworth by 10,807 votes. He was elected as a councillor for the Hillside ward in the London Borough of Merton in 1998 and remained on the council until 2002.

Elected Member of Parliament (2001)[edit]

Grayling was elected to the House of Commons to represent the Surrey seat of Epsom and Ewell at the 2001 general election following the retirement of the veteran Tory MP Archie Hamilton. Grayling held the seat with a majority of 10,080 and has been returned as MP there since. He made his maiden speech on 25 June 2001.[6]

Shadow Cabinet (2001-2010)[edit]

Grayling served on the Environment, Transport and the Regions Select Committee from 2001 until he was promoted to the Opposition Whips' Office by Iain Duncan Smith in 2002, moving to become a Spokesman for Health later in the year. He became a Spokesman for Education and Skills by Michael Howard in 2003. Following the 2005 general election he became a member of Howard's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, and since the election of David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party in December 2005 he has served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. In June 2007, he was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a post he held until January 2009 when he became Shadow Home Secretary.

Conservative "attack-dog"[edit]

Grayling became known as a national politician through his “attack dog” pressure on leading Labour politicians.[7] He was heavily involved in the questioning of David Blunkett, the then Work and Pensions Secretary, over his business affairs which led to Blunkett's resignation in 2005.[8] Grayling also challenged Tony Blair and his wife Cherie over the money they made from lectures while Blair was Prime Minister. He also challenged minister Stephen Byers over his handling of the Railtrack collapse.[9]

Government Minister (2010-)[edit]

On 28 May 2010, Grayling was appointed to the Privy Council in the 2010 Dissolution of Parliament Honours List.[10][11]

Grayling served as Minister of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 until 2012, before being promoted to the Cabinet, on 4 September 2012, as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. Sworn in as Lord Chancellor on 1 October 2012 at Westminster Abbey,[12] he was elected an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn on 11 December 2012, due in part to his lack of legal qualifications.

He was chided for his ignorance of protocol at the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013.[3]

Grayling's proposed changes to legal aid have been widely criticised by the legal profession. In May 2013, 90 Queen's Counsels signed a letter sent to the Daily Telegraph, in which the changes were branded "unjust", as they would seriously undermine the rule of law.[13]

In February 2014 he introduced the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2013–14 to the House of Commons.[14]

Grayling's ban on books being sent into UK prisons has been widely criticized by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the literary establishment, including Philip Pullman, Mark Haddon, Anthony Horowitz, Susan Hill and Emma Donoghue.[15] The ban was described as obscene by Shaun Attwood of the TV show Banged Up Abroad who read over 1000 books in prison and credited books for being the lifeblood of rehabilitation.[16]

Controversies[edit]

Expenses claims[edit]

Between 2001 and 2009,[17] Grayling claimed expenses for his flat in Pimlico, close to the Houses of Parliament, despite having a constituency home no further than 17 miles away[18] and owning two buy to let properties in Wimbledon.[19] Grayling says he uses the flat when "working very late" because he needs to "work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting."[20]

During the Parliamentary expenses scandal, The Daily Telegraph reported that Grayling refitted and redecorated the flat in 2005 costing over £5,000.[18] Grayling said that both the water and electrical systems failed "leaving the place needing a major overhaul".[19]

Grayling's expenses issue was seen as embarrassing for the Conservative Party as he had previously criticised Labour ministers for being implicated in sleaze scandals.[21]

Comparing Moss Side to The Wire[edit]

As Shadow Home Secretary, Grayling provoked controversy in August 2009 when he compared Manchester's Moss Side area to the American TV crime drama The Wire. His comments received angry responses from Manchester locals and police.[22][23] Having been out on patrol for a day with the police, observing the results of a shooting at a house, he described himself as having witnessed an "urban war". Police responded that gang-related shootings in Greater Manchester had fallen by 82 percent from the previous year and that to speak of "urban war" was "sensationalistic".[22] A local councillor, Roy Walters, complained of Moss Side unfairly being a "negative target" due to historical associations.[22] He was, however, defended by right wing commentators who said he spoke for the “mainstream majority”. Sticking by his comments, Grayling said, "I didn't say Moss Side equals Baltimore. What I said is that we have in Moss Side symptoms of a gang conflict in this country which I find profoundly disturbing."[23] Baltimore, with a population of about 600,000, was noted as having 191 gun related murders in the previous year, in comparison to Moss Side, population 17,537, which had none.[22]

Statistics controversy[edit]

Grayling came under fire as Shadow Home Secretary over the Conservative Party's use of statistics on violent crime.[24] In February 2010, the Conservative Party issued press releases to every constituency in the UK claiming that crime had "risen sharply" in the UK. They failed, however, to take into account the more rigorous system for recording crime. The chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, said that the figures Grayling was using were "likely to mislead the public" and "likely to damage public trust in official statistics" as the way in which crime was calculated had been changed in 2002.[25][26] Scholar further added that reliable statistics showed that there had not been an increase in crime during Labour's period in office.[27] A Conservative commissioned report by the independent House of Commons library suggested that, depending on how figures were calculated, Grayling's claims may have been justifiable and that violent crime may have risen in the period between 1998 and 2009.[26] The incumbent Home Secretary, Alan Johnson called Grayling's use of crime statistics "dodgy" and that, using the British Crime Survey, it could be shown that violent crime had, in fact, reduced by 41% over the same period.[26]

Gay couples in B&Bs controversy[edit]

In March 2010, Grayling was recorded at an open meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies think tank saying that during the debates on civil liberties under the Labour Government, he had felt that Christians should have the right to live by their consciences and that Christian owners of bed and breakfasts should have the right to turn away gay couples.[28] Grayling said:

"I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home. If they are running a hotel on the high street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes."[29]

When the recording was released by The Observer, on 3 April 2010,[30] Grayling's comments caused uproar,[31] with Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, saying that this position would be "illegal" and "very alarming to a lot of gay people who may have been thinking of voting Conservative".[31] Lord Mandelson, the most senior gay minister in the (then Labour) Government, added that the comment showed that the Conservative Party had not changed, that "when the camera is on they say one thing, but when the camera is off they say another".[32] There were calls for Grayling to resign after this incident.[33][34] Conservative Party leader David Cameron was subsequently urged to "back or sack" Grayling,[35] with gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell saying that "Cameron's silence is worrying. Many voters – gay and straight – will be disturbed by his failure to swiftly disown Grayling's support for homophobic discrimination. What does this say about the sincerity and seriousness of his commitment to gay equality?"[36] A poll for the website www.pinknews.co.uk released on 5 April[37] found that support for the Conservatives in the LGBT community had fallen drastically since Grayling's comments.[38] Author Douglas Murray has dubbed Grayling "a political buffoon, unsure of what he is saying and with little idea of how to say it."[39] Anastasia Beaumont-Bott, founder of LGBTory, a gay rights group which campaigns for the Conservatives, announced that she would be voting for Labour, not the Conservatives, in response to Grayling's comments. She said, "I feel guilty because as a gay woman affected by LGBT rights I am on record saying you should vote Conservative, and I want to reverse that. I want to go on record to say don't vote Conservative. I'd go as far to say that I'll vote Labour at this general election."[40] Beaumont-Bott was joined in defecting from the Conservatives to Labour a week later by prominent gay rights campaigner David Heathcote.[41] Grayling’s comments, however, were defended by a number of commentators, including the Today Programme presenter and leading gay broadcaster Evan Davis and leading Christian groups.[42]

Grayling apologised on 9 April, saying "I am sorry if what I said gave the wrong impression, I certainly didn't intend to offend anyone... I voted for gay rights, I voted for this particular measure." In the edition of 12 April of The Daily Politics, presenter Andrew Neil claimed the programme makers had been unable to contact Grayling about an appearance and suggested that he had gone to ground since his comments were published.[43] Since the start of the 2010 general election campaign on 6 April, Grayling has been "hidden away" by the Conservatives, making very few public appearances.[44][45][46][47] During the launch of the Labour Party's "LGBT Manifesto" on 15 April the Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, renewed calls for Grayling to be sacked, saying "We don't want to wake up and find we have a homophobic home secretary. David Cameron should have sacked him as soon as he said that."[48] It is unclear whether his remarks were the reason that David Cameron chose to appoint Theresa May as Home Secretary in his new Cabinet, rather than Grayling who held the position in the Shadow Cabinet; Grayling was not given any Cabinet post, as had been predicted by some media commentators prior to the election.[49]

On 31 January 2013 it was reported that Grayling would vote in favour of same-sex marriage in England and Wales.[50]

Personal life[edit]

In April 1987 Grayling married Susan Clare Dillistone in Surrey: they have a daughter (born December 1992), and a son (born August 1996).

Styles[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • The Bridgewater Heritage: The Story of Bridgewater Estates by Chris Grayling, 1983, Bridgewater Estates PLC
  • A Land Fit for Heroes: Life in England After the Great War by Christopher Grayling, 1985, Buchan & Enright ISBN 0-907675-68-9
  • Holt's: The Story of Joseph Holt by Christopher Grayling, 1985, Joseph Holt PLC
  • Just Another Star?: Anglo-American Relations Since 1945 by Christopher Grayling and Christopher Langdon, 1987, Virgin Books ISBN 0-245-54603-0
  • Insight Guide Waterways of Europe contribution by Chris Grayling, 1989, Apa Publications ISBN 0-88729-825-7

References[edit]

  1. ^ Toynbee, Polly (1 March 2011). "Some SDP thinking might strengthen Labour's nerve". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Her Majesty’s Government". Number10.gov.uk. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b scotsman.com: "Queen’s speech sketch: ceremony changes" (Maddox) 8 May 2013
  4. ^ History of Parliament Online – Cooper, Sir Anthony Ashley
  5. ^ "Are there more ex-SDP members on the Tory front-bench than the Lib Dem front-bench?". Libdemvoice.org. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (25 June 2001). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 25 Jun 2001 (pt 20)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Attack Dog – Telegraph – December 2008
  8. ^ Blunkett falls – Scotsman – November 2005
  9. ^ "Cherie in trouble again", The Times, October 2005.
  10. ^ "Peerages, honours and appointments Number 10". Number10.gov.uk. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Privy Counsellors | Privy Council". Privycouncil.independent.gov.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  12. ^ www.justice.gov.uk
  13. ^ "Top QCs unite to criticise legal aid cuts and judicial review reforms". legal week. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2013-14". UK Parliament. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  15. ^ independent.co.uk: "Authors blast Chris Grayling's 'vindictive act' of banning prisoners from receiving books" 24 Mar 2014
  16. ^ http://jonsjailjournal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/banning-books-from-uk-prisoners-is.html
  17. ^ Swaine, Jon (12 May 2009). "Chris Grayling to stop claiming second home allowances: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Watt, Holly (22 February 2006). "Daily Telegraph: Chris Grayling (11 May 2009)". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Grayling, Chris (May 2009). "MPs Expenses – May 2009". Grayling's website. Retrieved 1 August 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ Grayling, Chris (January 2008). "MPs Expenses – January 2008". Grayling's website. Retrieved 1 August 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Chris Grayling's expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). 26 June 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c d Osuh, Chris (26 August 2009). "Grayling's comments on Moss Side condemned". Manchester Evening News (Manchester Evening News). Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  23. ^ a b No, author (25 August 2009). "Anger at Tory's Wire comparison". Manchester Evening News (Manchester Evening News). Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  24. ^ McSmith, Andy (5 February 2010). "Lies, damn lies and Tory crime statistics". The Independent (London). Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  25. ^ Doughty, Steve (5 February 2010). "Tories accused of fiddling violent crime statistics to show increase under Labour". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c Full scale of violent crime revealed, Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  27. ^ "Political row over violent crime figures 'damaging public trust'". Daily Mail (London). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  28. ^ BBC News, 4 April 2010, "Grayling suggests B&Bs should be able to bar gay guests", BBC News.
  29. ^ The Observer, 3 April 2010, Secret tape reveals Tory backing for ban on gays
  30. ^ The Observer, 3 April 2010, Listen to the secret recording: Top Tory backs bar on gays
  31. ^ a b The Guardian, 3 April 2010, Secret tape reveals Tory backing for ban on gays
  32. ^ The Times, 4 April 2010, Senior Tory Chris Grayling attacked for gaffe over gays in B&Bs
  33. ^ The Daily Mail, 4 April 2010, Top Tory Chris Grayling urged to resign after backing B&B ban for gays on secret tape
  34. ^ The Morning Star, 4 April 2010, Pressure grows on gay-bashing Tory
  35. ^ Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2010, David Cameron urged to act over Chris Grayling's 'anti-gay' comments
  36. ^ The Guardian, 4 April 2010, Chris Grayling reveals the real Tories
  37. ^ Pink News, 5 April 2010, Exclusive: Cameron and Grayling gay gaffes cause Conservative popularity among LGBT community to plunge
  38. ^ Pink News, 5 April 2010, Chris Grayling: Support for Conservatives among gays drops sharply after B&B row
  39. ^ The Telegraph, 6 April 2010, Chris Grayling is a political buffoon. What if a B&B turned away black African Christians?
  40. ^ The Independent, 8 April 2010, I'm voting Labour, founder of Tory gay rights group says
  41. ^ Pink News, 14 April 2010, David Miliband welcomes former Tories who have quit party over gay rights
  42. ^ www.christian.org.uk
  43. ^ Andrew Neil (12 April 2010). The Daily Politics. The BBC.
  44. ^ The Daily Mail, 9 April 2010, Has Calamity Chris been cast into the cold?
  45. ^ The Observer, 11 April 2010, They seek Chris here, they seek Chris there...
  46. ^ The Telegraph, 13 April 2010, Chris Grayling finally makes an appearance at Conservative manifesto launch
  47. ^ The Daily Mail, 14 April 2010, Chris Grayling's gaffe over gays comes back to bite Tories as Labour unveils defectors
  48. ^ Pink News, 16 April 2010, Harman calls for sacking of Chris Grayling as she launches gay manifesto
  49. ^ The Guardian, 14 April 2010, David Cameron's cabinet: who's in and who's out?
  50. ^ "Chris Grayling and Baroness Warsi to vote in favour of same-sex marriage". Pink News. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Archie Hamilton
Member of Parliament for Epsom and Ewell
2001–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Yeo
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Theresa Villiers
Preceded by
Philip Hammond
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Theresa May
Preceded by
Dominic Grieve
Shadow Home Secretary
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Alan Johnson
Preceded by
Jim Knight
Minister of State for Employment
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Mark Hoban
Preceded by
Kenneth Clarke
Lord Chancellor
Secretary of State for Justice

2012–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by
Justin Welby
as Archbishop of Canterbury
Gentlemen
as Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
John Sentamu
as Archbishop of York