John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Taylor of Warwick
|Member of the House of Lords|
2 October 1996
|Born||John David Beckett Taylor
9 September 1952
John David Beckett, Baron Taylor of Warwick, (born 21 September 1952) is a member of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In 1996, at the age of 43, he became one of the youngest and the only black peer in the upper house. Taylor initially practised as a barrister, and has also served as a judge, University Chancellor, company director and television and radio presenter. He identifies himself as a committed Christian.
Born in 1952, Taylor was the son of Jamaican immigrants in Birmingham. His father, Derief Taylor, was a professional cricketer who played for Warwickshire and the West Indies, and his mother Enid, was a nurse. Taylor attended Moseley Grammar School in Birmingham where he was head boy, and later attended Keele University where he studied English Literature and Law, followed by the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
Taylor was called to the bar in 1978, by Gray's Inn, where he was also awarded the Gray's Inn Advocacy Award, and Norman Tapp Memorial Prize for excellence in mooting. Taylor undertook his pupillage at 1 Dr Johnson’s Buildings, and then joined the same chambers as the then Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke. Taylor practised from there on the Midland & Oxford Circuit, and was appointed to the Director of Public Prosecutions' list of specialist prosecutors, and also served as Counsel for the Bank of England. In 1997, Taylor was appointed as a part-time Deputy District Judge (Magistrates' Court).
In between his legal and political career, Taylor has also worked as a television and radio presenter, and was the host of "The John Taylor Programme" on BBC Radio 2, the most popular radio station in the United Kingdom. Other positions he has held include:
- Television Presenter, Crime Stalker (Carlton Television); Talk About (BBC One); Powerhouse (Channel 4)
- Non-executive Director, Currencies Direct LTD (resigned July 2010); Mottram Holdings PLC
- Consultant, Kleinwort Benson Bank
- Chancellor, Bournemouth University, 2001-2006.
- Vice President, National Small Business Bureau; British Board of Film Classification, 1998-2008.
In 1992, Taylor turned his hand to local politics and became active in his local council. He went on to beat 300 other candidates to become the Conservative candidate for Cheltenham at the 1992 general election. The campaign was portrayed by outsiders as having been heavily influenced by the issue of race, with Taylor's West Indian background causing concern to some members of the local Conservative party. In the end, Taylor lost by 1,668 votes, to the Liberal Democrats, despite the fact that at the time, Cheltenham was regarded as a safe Tory seat. However, his highly publicised campaign brought him to the attention of senior figures in the Conservative party and gave him a certain public standing.
To his surprise, Taylor was made a life peer as Baron Taylor of Warwick, of Warwick in the County of Warwickshire in 1996, on the recommendation of the then prime minister, John Major. He became the first black peer, and at age 43 was also at the time, one of the youngest peers to ever sit in the upper house.
Prior to becoming a peer, Taylor had built up a successful career, with a salary well over a £100,000 per year. However, after forgoing his salary to become an unpaid Peer, working up to 5 days per week in the House of Lords, Taylor looked to his fellow peers for advice on expenses and allowances. He claimed that he was told that the daily allowance, the overnight subsistence, the office allowance and travel expenses were provided in lieu of a salary. This advice soon proved to be wrong.
In early 2009, a major political scandal was triggered by the leaking and subsequent publication of expense claims made by members of the United Kingdom Parliament. On 16 July 2010, Taylor resigned the Tory Whip as he had been charged with six offences of false accounting, claiming approximately £11,000 in overnight subsistence and mileage claims. Although several hundred Parliamentarians were involved in the scandal, (some involving claims totaling over £100,000), only 6 MPs and 2 Peers, including Taylor, were charged and convicted.
Criminal convictions for false accounting
Taylor appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2010. On 25 January 2011, at Southwark Crown Court before Mr Justice Saunders, Taylor was found guilty by the jury on six counts of false accounting, relating to a total of £11,277.80 in false parliamentary expenses claims; Taylor had listed his main residence as a home in Oxford, which was owned by his nephew, while he occupied a flat in London. Taylor had claimed payment of travel costs between the premises, and subsistence expenses for staying in London. In his defence, Taylor stated that it was common practice among peers to claim for such journeys and expenses, and that it was his belief that it was acceptable to do this provided there was a "family connection" with the property. In his summation, Mr Justice Saunders added that Taylor was undoubtedly a man of good character who had devoted a lot of time to helping others.
On 31 May 2011, Taylor was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. He was released in September 2011 after serving three months of this sentence, under the home detention curfew scheme - a program utilized for "low-risk" persons.
As a result of his criminal convictions, Taylor was disbarred in May 2012. Additionally, following a report from the Privileges Committee, Taylor was suspended from the House of Lords for 12 months from 31 May 2011 to 30 May 2012. The report from the Privileges Committee, and the suspension, followed investigations and recommendations set out in two reports by the independent Lords Commissioner for Standards and the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct.
Personal Life & Relationships
Taylor married in 1981, he and his wife having three children together and living in Ealing. They divorced in 2005. The Daily Telegraph reported that Taylor is an evangelical Christian, and in 2009 married a wealthy evangelical Christian from Florida, where Taylor lived for a short while. That marriage was annulled in 2010.
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- "Lady Digby Appointed Chancellor". Bournemouth University Press Release. Bournemouth University. November 6, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- "BBFC Appoints New Vice Presidents". BBFC Press Release. British Board of Film Classification. 14 July 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
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- Prince, Rosa (16 July 2010). "Lord Taylor charged over expenses on relative's house". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Full list of MPs' expenses repayments". BBC News. London. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "First female Muslim peer Baroness Uddin claimed £100,000: MPs’ expenses". The Telegraph. London. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Expenses MPs and their sentences: how long each served". The Telegraph. London. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Lord Taylor guilty of making false expenses claims". BBC News (London). 25 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Gammell, Caroline (31 May 2011). "Lord Taylor jailed for 12 months over expenses fraud". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Expense: Hanningfield and Taylor freed from jail". BBC News (London). 12 September 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Expenses cheat Lord Taylor of Warwick banned from practising as a lawyer". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 May 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Robert Mendick (29 January 2011). "Lord Taylor: the strange tale of the convicted peer and his 24-day marriage to a wealthy businesswoman". The Daily Telegraph (London: Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 30 January 2011.