Jerry Hayes

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Jerry Hayes
Member of Parliament
for Harlow
In office
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Stan Newens
Succeeded by Bill Rammell
Personal details
Born (1953-04-20) 20 April 1953 (age 61)
Nationality English
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Alison Hayes
Occupation Barrister
Profession Law

Jeremy Joseph James Hayes (born 20 April 1953) is a British former Conservative politician, the MP for Harlow in Essex from 1983 until 1997. He subsequently returned to practising criminal law.

Political career[edit]

He was Member of Parliament for Harlow in Essex from 1983. He served on the Health and Heritage Select Committees and was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Environment. He introduced a number of Acts including the Sexual Offences Act, the Nurse Prescribing Act and the Video Recordings Act. Hayes lost his seat in 1997 to Bill Rammell, the Labour Party candidate, in the 1997 general election.


Hayes was on the left on the Conservative Party, unlike most of the 1983 intake of Conservative MPs. Hayes opposed capital punishment and fought for free dental and eye check-ups. On his blog, Hayes stated "I’m on the independent left of the Conservative Party. During the Thatcher years I was regarded as a rebel. Heaven knows why, I just believed in social justice and pragmatism. But in those days that was about as popular as a rat sandwich. On one occasion I reduced our majority from 140 to 4. I was not always popular with the right".[1] Once, when asked why he did not support Blair's "New Labour" endeavour, he replied "They're too right-wing". On the BBC Question Time programme on 9 May 2013, he expressed the view that there was a real danger that the entire legal profession would be placed in the hands of G4S within a couple of years. It was on this same programme that he expressed his views that rape isn't rape if someone is not prosecuted: "Clearly they weren't raped because the person wasn't prosecuted."[2][3]


Roth's Parliamentary Profiles says of Hayes: "[He] has never taken himself seriously, and therefore has not been taken seriously by others". Former Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd said of Hayes that "he would look very pretty as a French maid; I wish I had his curls". Margaret Thatcher had a personal dislike of his beard and yellow ties, which he refused to change, when asked.[4] Hayes was a regular contributor on television quiz shows and talk shows, in particular, The James Whale Show. For over four years he regularly appeared with Charles Kennedy, Ken Livingstone and Michael Parkinson on a political discussion show on LBC in London. Hayes appeared on comedy show Have I Got News for You in 1992, on which he was unafraid to ridicule his own party and it was revealed that he is Ken Livingstone's "favourite Tory", which Hayes compared to being "Ian Paisley's favourite Catholic".[5] Hayes was frequently described as a "political buffoon", because of his willingness to subject himself to ridicule on various television and radio appearances. This included being fastened in the stocks and pelted with custard pies, and to be whipped while dressed in fetish clothing.[4]

When the heavy metal group Iron Maiden were having trouble getting permission to play in Beirut, Hayes threw his weight behind them (one member was a constituent). "I have advised [the Foreign Office] the group is not a bad influence," he said. "In fact they are very good: I have all their albums."[4]

Hayes was the subject of a tabloid press scandal, based on allegations concerning his sex life, in January 1997.[4] In 2014 he published a somewhat irreverent memoir about his time as an MP (An Unexpected MP).

After Parliament[edit]

Following his career in Parliament, he wrote for the magazine Punch. In 2006, a bomb was found near his house in the village of Wendens Ambo, near Saffron Walden in Essex.[6] In May 2010, Hayes started a political blog for the website "Think Politics", which also hosts blogs by former Liberal Democrat MP for Falmouth Camborne, Julia Goldsworthy, current Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne, and Conservative candidate for Swansea West, René Kinzett.[7] His blog has now moved to Total Politics.[8]

Legal career[edit]

Hayes was called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1977. Hayes has practised as lead defence counsel in high-profile cases, including R v McGing and R v Tishane Bernard. McGing was a soldier in Basra accused of drowning a teenager whilst on patrol. He was acquitted. Tishane Bernard was accused of a gangland execution, and was also acquitted. He was instrumental in setting up Ten 17 radio with Tony Saxby and Russ Lewell in 1991. He acted as lawyer to John Hemming in his 2005 legal bid to challenge postal votes at the 2005 general election and has also defended celebrities and a British soldier in Iraq. Hayes also represented two Labour councillors accused of postal Ballot fraud in Birmingham.[9] Hayes works at Argent Chambers on whose website he is described as specialising in leading high-profile murder, drugs, rape and fraud cases.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Hayes is married to Alison and has two children, Lawrence and Francesca.[4]


External references[edit]