Nadhim Zahawi

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Nadhim Zahawi
Nadahim Zahawi.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Stratford-on-Avon
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by John Maples
Majority 11,346 (22.4%)
Personal details
Born (1967-06-02) 2 June 1967 (age 47)[1]
Baghdad, Iraq
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lana Zahawi
Children 2 Sons 1 Daughter
Alma mater University College London
Occupation Member of Parliament

Nadhim Zahawi ,born 2 June 1967[1]) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010, after the retirement of previous MP John Maples.

He is also the co-founder of the international internet-based market research firm YouGov of which he was Chief Executive until February 2010.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Baghdad, to Kurdish parents, Zahawi fled with his family to the UK from Iraq when he was nine during Saddam Hussein's rise to power.[2]

Zahawi was educated at Ibstock Place School and at King's College School, at the time a boys-only independent school in Wimbledon in West London, followed by University College London, where he studied Chemical Engineering, receiving a BSc.[3]

Co-Founder of YouGov[edit]

Following a career as European Marketing Director for Smith & Brooks Ltd, Nadhim Zahawi co-founded YouGov with Stephan Shakespeare, a former spokesperson for Jeffrey Archer. Zahawi was YouGov's CEO from 2005 to 2010.[1]

Political career[edit]

In 1991, Zahawi and fellow Kurd Broosk Saib were aides to Jeffrey Archer during Archer's "Simple Truth" campaign to help Kurdish victims of the Gulf War. Zahawi and Saib were nicknamed "Lemon kurd" and "Bean kurd" by Archer.[4] In 1994 Archer helped campaign for Zahawi for a seat on Wandsworth council. Zahawi also ran Archer's unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of London in 1998.[5]

Zahawi was elected as a Conservative councillor in Putney[6] in the London Borough of Wandsworth, serving three terms from 1994 to 2006, and stood as a parliamentary candidate at Erith and Thamesmead in 1997, coming second to Labour.[7]

In 2010 Zahawi was selected by the local Conservative association for Stratford-on-Avon as a prospective parliamentary candidate in the 2010 general election.

In October 2013, he became a member of the Number 10 Policy Unit.[8] Later in October, Zahawi and fellow member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee interviewed Lazard, the Government's independent adviser on the sale of Royal Mail. Shares quickly rose to £5 following floatation at £3.30 and the Financial Times claimed that two investment banks had warned that it was underpriced.[9] However Zahawi said the government had got its sums right and had to be sure that the remaining 40% of shares could be sold above the flotation price in future. When it was put to him that he might consider selling 60% of shareholdings in his own companies at a large discount, so that he can later sell the other 40% at the market rate, he replied "I'm afraid that this method only works when disposing of public assets. It would be ridiculous to expect any individual, no matter how outrageously wealthy they are, to suffer such a loss".[9]


Zahawi claimed for 2012/13 a total of £170,234 in expenses, ranking him the 130th highest out of 650 MPs.[10] He explained in his local newspaper Stratford Herald that the "vast bulk" of his expenses was on staffing costs.[11]

In November 2013 Zahawi "apologised unreservedly" after The Sunday Mirror reported that he had claimed £5,822 expenses for electricity for his horse riding school stables and a yard manager's mobile home.[12] Zahawi said the mistake arose because he received a single bill covering both a meter in the stables and one in his house. He would repay the money though the actual overcharge was £4,000.[13] An article in The Independent also drew attention to the number of legitimate but "trivial" items on Zahawi’s expenses.[14]

Registered interests[edit]

Zahawi's declarations in the "Register of Members' Interests" included (as of September 2013)[15] "31 acres of land in Warwickshire, with heated stables run as a livery yard by Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd". Zahawi is also a registered owner of a residential property in Putney, which he bought for £1.85 million in December 2005. Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd is a business consultancy company registered to the same Putney address with Companies House. He also has three rental flats in London, and is a non-executive director of a London-based specialist recruitment company called "SThree", from which he had a monthly salary of £2,916.67. He is also registered as a shareholder of YouGov.

Constituency home[edit]

In November 2013 it was reported by the Birmingham Mail newspaper that in May 2011 (one year after he became an MP) Nadhim Zahawi used as a mortgage lender a company called Berkford Investments Limited, which was based in the low-tax British overseas territory of Gibraltar, to finance the purchase of his constituency home 'Oakland' riding stables estate (worth at the time £875,000) in Upper Tysoe, near Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.[15]

Berkford Investments Limited is managed by T&T Management Services Limited, which advertises its wealth management services as 'setting up and administering trusts to help the wealthy minimise or avoid property taxes'. Zahawi responded to the news story by saying: I did pay stamp duty on my property in Tysoe and have always paid stamp duty on my property purchases. I fully support the 2012 budget and all budgets of this government. I purchased my property in Tysoe with a mortgage from a Gibraltar company. This fact and the details involved are fully declared on the Land Registry and to suggest it is in any way hidden would be factually incorrect. Equally, to suggest that in any way I am using offshore to reduce my tax burden is entirely incorrect.[15]

Personal life[edit]

A keen horse rider and show jumper, Zahawi and his wife Lana run a riding school. He is a millionaire.[16]

Parking ticket[edit]

Zahawi won 'craziest parking ticket of the year' in 2004 for having got a ticket while he was in an ambulance.[17]

Musical tie[edit]

In January 2011, Zahawi appeared in ITN news coverage of the Commons debate discussing the end of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme. He was wearing a musical tie which proceeded to play during his contribution. The Deputy Speaker advised him to be more select when choosing ties to avoid a musical accompaniment to debate in the chamber.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "About Nadhim". Zahawi ( 6 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Parris, Matthew (25 February 2010). "Nuclear reaction wins over rural hearts". The Times (London). 
  3. ^ "YouGov pollsters survey future". The Times (London). 28 October 2007. 
  4. ^ Sengupta, Kim (2001-08-05). "Jeffrey Archer said he raised £57m. But the Kurds say they got only £250,000". The Independent. 
  5. ^ "In the City". Private Eye (London: Pressdram Ltd) (1265): 8. 25 June 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Tories' secret plan to kill off party dinosaurs". London: Daily Mail. 19 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Isabel Hardman (15 October 2013). "New Number 10 policy board announced". The Spectator. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Royal Mail 'underpriced, two investment banks warned'". BBC news. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Stratford on Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi repays expenses". BBC news. 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Adam Withnall (11 November 2013). "Every little helps Nadhim Zahawi: MP who claimed most on energy bills also received 31p for paperclips and 47p for horse polish". The Independent (London). Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (10 November 2013). "Millionaire Tory MP claimed expenses to heat stables". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  17. ^ Essen, Yvette (5 June 2006). "Market profile: Nadhim Zahawi". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  18. ^ "MP's tie too loud for Parliament". ITN video clip. 20 January 2011. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Maples
Member of Parliament for Stratford-on-Avon