Hugo Swire

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The Right Honourable
Hugo Swire
Hugo Swire.jpg
Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Assumed office
4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jeremy Browne
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Paul Goggins
Succeeded by Mike Penning
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Shadow Minister for the Olympics (from 2005)
In office
8 December 2005 – 2 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Theresa May
Succeeded by Jeremy Hunt
Member of Parliament
for East Devon
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Peter Emery
Majority 9,114 (17.2%)
Personal details
Born (1959-11-30) 30 November 1959 (age 55)
London, England
Nationality English
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Alexandra "Sasha" Nott (1996 - present)
Children 2
Alma mater Eton College
University of St Andrews
Religion Anglican[citation needed]

Hugo George William Swire (born 30 November 1959) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Devon since 2001. He is currently a Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In his job, he has a responsibility towards India, the Far East, Latin America and the Falklands, as well as Australasia.[1]


Swire was educated at St. Aubyns Preparatory School in Rottingdean and Eton College, and attended the University of St Andrews before going to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.


Before going into politics, Swire served in the Grenadier Guards.

He was a financial consultant, then became of Head of Development for the National Gallery, then Director of the auction house Sotheby's directly before his election from 1996.[2]

Swire was non-executive chairman of Photo-Me International[3] prior to joining the Government.

Member of Parliament[edit]

He contested Greenock & Inverclyde in 1997, finishing fourth. In 2001 he won the seat of East Devon. Two years after his election to Parliament, he became an Opposition whip. In 2004, he was promoted to become Shadow Culture Minister. He joined the Shadow Cabinet on 8 December 2005, when new leader David Cameron appointed him Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Swire opens the 12th UK-Japan Politico-Military Talks in 2013.

Swire was sacked in the July 2007 Conservative re-shuffle for suggesting his party would scrap free museum entry.[4][5][6] Swire returned to the backbenches and amongst other roles became Hon. Secretary of the Conservative Middle East Council.

In May 2010 he was appointed Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the newly elected Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron.[7]

In October 2011, Swire, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, boycotted a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly held at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, as the hotel had been the scene of the 1984 IRA attack on the Conservative party leadership.[8]

In December 2011, Swire criticised a government agency, the Rural Payments Agency, based at Clyst St Mary in his East Devon constituency, for allegedly banning Christmas decorations from their offices.[9]

On 6 September 2013, Swire sent letters to South China Morning Post and Ming Pao, commenting on the universal suffrage of Hong Kong SAR, emphasising the importance of democracy. Moreover, he added that he would provide any support towards the establishment of universal suffrage in Hong Kong.[10]

Fund raising events[edit]

Given his former role at Sotheby's, Swire is often invited to be the auctioneer at Tory fund raising events.[5] He came in for criticism in 2015 when a Channel 4 Dispatches program showed him making a joke about benefit claimants. As auctioneer at the ‘black and white’ fundraising ball in February 2015 Swire had tried to raise the bidding to £60,000 before telling a potential bidder that if he was on benefits, he could at least afford £55,000. Other Tory donors included Lycamobile, a telecommunications firm much criticised for avoiding UK Corporation tax who bid £200,000 for a statue of Margaret Thatcher.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Hugo is a 3rd Great Grandson of John Swire (b. 1793), founder of the Liverpool textile trading business later to become the Swire Group, the multi-billion USD conglomerate based in Hong Kong.

Swire married Alexandra (Sasha) Nott, the daughter of John Nott (former Conservative Secretary of State for Defence during the Falklands War) in December 1996 in Kensington. The couple have two daughters (born May 1997 and August 2001). His brothers-in-law include Joe Strummer and Julian Nott.


  1. ^ "The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  2. ^ "Hugo Swire". BBC. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 
  3. ^ "Hugo Swire MP clicks as new head of Photo-Me". London: Daily Telegraph. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Shadow Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Jones, George; Carlin, Brendan (29 June 2007). "Etonians face axe in shadow Cabinet shake-up". London: BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "We'll let museums charge admission again, say Tories". London: BBC. 17 June 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Satherley, Jessica (25 October 2011). "Ministers boycott Irish summit". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (22 December 2011). "Scrooge civil service bosses ban Christmas decorations". Daily Mail (London). 
  10. ^ "英大臣指隨時支援港人爭取真普選 ("British minister refers to supporting Hong Kong at any time for true universal suffrage")". Sharp Daily. 14 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Rajeev Syal (23 March 2015). "Tory minister filmed making benefits claimants joke in Channel 4 sting". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Emery
Member of Parliament for East Devon