Edward Garnier

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Sir Edward Garnier
Edward Garnier, Solicitor General.jpg
Garnier as Solicitor General
Solicitor General
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Vera Baird
Succeeded by Oliver Heald
Shadow Attorney General
In office
8 September 2009 – 6 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Dominic Grieve
Succeeded by Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Shadow Minister for Prisons
In office
Leader David Cameron
Succeeded by Alan Duncan
Shadow Attorney General
In office
Leader William Hague
Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Sir Nicholas Lyell
Succeeded by Bill Cash
Member of Parliament
for Harborough
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Sir John Farr
Majority 9,877 (18%)
Personal details
Born (1952-10-26) 26 October 1952 (age 62)
Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Anna Caroline Mellows
Residence Melton Mowbray; London
Alma mater Jesus College, Oxford
Occupation Politician
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Website www.edwardgarnier.co.uk

Sir Edward Henry Garnier, QC, MP (born 26 October 1952) is a barrister and Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. A former Guardian lawyer he is on the socially liberal wing of his party and has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harborough in Leicestershire since 1992.[1]

Garnier most recently served as Solicitor General for England and Wales[2] from the election of 2010 until the 2012 ministerial reshuffle, following which he was appointed a Knight Bachelor.[3][4]

Education and professional career[edit]

Wellington College, Berkshire

Edward Garnier was born in Germany, the youngest son of Colonel William d'Arcy Garnier (3rd son of Brigadier-General Alan Garnier CB MBE MC)[5] and the Hon Lavender née de Grey[6] (eldest daughter of the 8th Baron Walsingham[7]) and was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire and Jesus College, Oxford where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in modern history in 1974, proceeding MA in 1976. He went on to study at the College of Law at Chancery Lane in the City of London.

Insignia of Knight Bachelor

Garnier was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1976 and is a practising barrister specialising in libel. In 1995 he took silk (Queen's Counsel) and was appointed as a Crown Court Assistant Recorder in 1998 and as a Recorder (part-time Circuit Judge) in 2000.

He represented Edwina Currie following an article in the Daily Express by Peter Oborne alleging that she was the 'vilest woman in Britain.'[8] Currie won £30,000 in damages.[8] In 2013, he also represented Lord McAlpine at the High Court following allegations made on Twitter by Sally Bercow, wife of the speaker.[9]


Garnier unsuccessfully contested the safe Labour seat of Hemsworth in West Yorkshire at the 1987 general election. He was elected MP for Harborough with a majority of 13,543 at the 1992 general election following the retirement of the veteran Tory Sir John Farr and made his maiden speech just after midnight on 20 May 1992.[10]

In Parliament, he served on the home affairs select committee from 1992 until he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alastair Goodlad and David Davis for a year in 1994. In 1996 he became the PPS to the Attorney General Nicholas Lyell, in 1997 he was briefly the PPS to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Roger Freeman. He joined the frontbench under William Hague as a spokesman on the Lord Chancellor's Department in 1997 and entered the Shadow Cabinet in 1999 as the Shadow Attorney General, "earning wide acclaim for a thoughtful performance in that role, in which he demonstrated his legal expertise without becomingly excessively partisan".[1] He returned to the backbenches after the 2001 general election but became Opposition Spokesman for Home Affairs after the 2005 general election and later Shadow Attorney General. In 2009 he was elected Chair of the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Privacy.[11][12]

Compulsory annuity purchases[edit]

Garnier has long campaigned against compulsory annuity purchases for sums above the minimum income threshold and has introduced or supported several Private Members Bills on the issue.[13] On 21 November 2002, he came 4th in the ballot for Private Members Bills.[14] With cross party support from leading backbench pensions experts Sir John Butterfill, Frank Field and LibDem Pensions spokesman Steve Webb he introduced the Retirement Income Reform Bill.[15][16] This Bill was dropped in July 2003, reintroduced on 7 January 2004[17][18] and eventually withdrawn in April 2004.[17]

Constituency issues[edit]

Pennbury eco-town[edit]

Garnier has raised the issue of eco-towns, around 20 times in Parliament.[19] One of them, Pennbury, housing 40,000 people, was to be near Stoughton, Leicestershire. Garnier was granted an adjournment debate on 29 January 2008[20]

Garnier argued that, although the eco-town principle was sound, Pennbury, a rural, not a Brownfields, site lacked the necessary transport infrastructure and was unlikely to be able to provide jobs. Furthermore, building a suitable road from the M1 Motorway, "a distance of about 20 miles ..would cost the thick end of £1 billion"[21] The Pennbury proposal was dropped in July 2009.

British United Shoe Machinery[edit]

Garnier's constituents were amongst 544 British United Shoe Machinery workers who lost their pensions following the company entering Administration in 2000.[22] Workers joined Ros Altmann's company pensions campaign blaming Venture Capitalist Apax Partners for having engineered the collapse[23] and Garnier was the first East Midlands MP to question Apax's role. Apax's chairman at the time was a major donor to the Labour Party and Garnier asked what discussions "Ministers have had with Sir Ronald Cohen ..about the collapse of the pension scheme".[24] Garnier raised the issue again with the new Minister for Pensions Reform Stephen Timms citing the "mysterious circumstances" under which the pensions disappeared. Timms agreed to "look into" the complaints saying that "in recent years, there have been too many instances of that kind."[25][26] The press expected a proper enquiry[26][27] but although in September 2005 Timms wrote back to Garnier refusing this,[28] December 2007 saw compensation of £2.9 Billion awarded nationally to failed Company Pension Scheme workers.[22] In all Garnier referenced BUSM twelve times,[29] and "was a really valuable advocate in the campaign to recover the pensions".[22]

Personal life[edit]

Garnier married Anna Caroline Mellows on 17 April 1982; their firstborn child was a daughter (born September 1983) and they also have two sons (born July 1986 and January 1991).

Garnier was a Visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford in 1996 and is a keen follower of cricket, being a member of Leicestershire CCC. He speaks proficient French and enjoys 19th-century French literature.

His cousin is Mark Garnier who has been the Member of Parliament for Wyre Forest since 2010.


  • Halsbury's Laws of England contribution by Edward Garnier, 1985, Butterworth ISBN 0-406-03000-6
  • Bearing the Standard: Themes for a Fourth Term contribution by Edward Garnier, 1991, Conservative Political Centre ISBN 0-85070-824-9
  • Facing the Future by Edward Garnier, 1993


  1. ^ a b "Edward Garnier, Conservative MP Harborough". BBC News. 22 Oct 2002. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  2. ^ "As it happened: Reshuffle". BBC News. 4 September 2012. 
  3. ^ www.bbc.co.uk
  4. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/liberaldemocrats/9524105/Cameron-piles-Cabinet-with-record-32-ministers.html Cameron piles Cabinet with record 32 ministers, Daily Telegraph
  5. ^ qv BLG 1965, CARPENTER-GARNIER of Rookesbury Park
  6. ^ www.thetimes.co.uk
  7. ^ www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk
  8. ^ a b Julia Hartley-Brewer (10 March 2000). "Edwina Currie wins libel action". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Rhiannon Williams (22 October 2013). "Bercow urges Twitter users to 'behave more responsibly'". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill HC debate 20 May 1992". theyworkforyou. 20 May 1992. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  11. ^ "Privacy All-Party Parliamentary Group". parliament UK. Retrieved 21 Jul 2010. 
  12. ^ "All Party Parliamentary Privacy Group on Privacy". Retrieved 21 Jul 2010. 
  13. ^ "Edward Garnier+annuities". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  14. ^ "Retirement Income Reform Bill 18 of 2002-03". Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  15. ^ "Investors should be 'treated like adults'". BBC News. 11 Dec 2002. Retrieved 12 Apr 2010. 
  16. ^ "Retirement Income Reform". 11 Dec 2002. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "The Retirement Income Reform Bill". Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  18. ^ "Retirement Income Reform Bill". 
  19. ^ "Edward Garnier+eco town". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  20. ^ "HC Deb, 29 January 2008, c287". Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  21. ^ "HC Deb, 19 June 2008, c1113". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 11 Apr 2010. 
  22. ^ a b c "Engineering executive's delight at OBE honour". Harborough Mail. 3 January 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  23. ^ Pam Atherton (18 May 2005). "Another pensions problem for the Government". London: Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 20 February 2008. 
  24. ^ "Work and Pensions-Written Questions:British United Shoe Machinery". Hansard. 5 April 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  25. ^ "Stakeholder Pensions". Hansard. 25 July 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  26. ^ a b Pam Atherton (25 July 2005). "Government agrees to BUSM pension inquiry". London: Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  27. ^ Daniel McAllister (6 February 2006). "Apax faces inquiry into BUSM scheme conduct". Pensions Week. 
  28. ^ DWP Letter to Edward Garnier MOS(PR)/05/1595
  29. ^ "Edward Garnier, British United Shoe Machinery". TheyWorkForYou.com. Retrieved 15 Apr 2010. 

External links[edit]

News articles
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir John Farr
Member of Parliament for Harborough
Legal offices
Preceded by
Vera Baird
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Oliver Heald