Symonds in 2020
|Born||17 March 1988|
|Alma mater||University of Warwick|
|Partner(s)||Boris Johnson (2018–present; engaged)|
|Relatives||John Beavan, Baron Ardwick (grandfather)|
Anne Symonds (grandmother)
Carrie Symonds (born 17 March 1988) is a British political activist, conservationist, and the fiancée of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson. She is the first unmarried partner of a Prime Minister to reside in 10 Downing Street. She works as a senior advisor to ocean conservation charity Oceana.
Early life and education
Symonds was born on 17 March 1988 to Matthew Symonds, co-founder of The Independent, and Josephine Mcaffee (née Lawrence), a lawyer working for that newspaper. Her paternal grandfather was John Beavan, Baron Ardwick (at one time editor of the Daily Herald and later, during the 1970s, a Labour Party MEP), and her paternal grandmother was Anne Symonds, a BBC World Service journalist.
Symonds was brought up by her mother in East Sheen, London, and between 1999 and 2006 attended Godolphin and Latymer School, an independent day school for girls. She went on to the University of Warwick, where she studied art history and theatre studies, completing her degree in 2009.
Career and political activism
In 2009, Symonds joined the Conservative Party as a press officer. She worked at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, and later campaigned for Boris Johnson in the 2010 London Conservative Party mayoral selection. She has also worked for Conservative MPs Sajid Javid (as a media special adviser) and John Whittingdale.
Symonds became the Conservative Party's head of communications in 2018, but left the position later that year, taking up a job in public relations for the Oceana project. It was reported that she was asked to leave her post as director of communications after sources claimed party chiefs had said her performance was poor, and questions were raised over significant unjustified expenses claims. These accusations were, however, rejected by other sources as being a smear campaign based around rumours allegedly spread by Johnson's political strategist, Lynton Crosby.
John Worboys case
In 2007, aged 19, Symonds was driven home from a King's Road nightclub by taxi-driver John Worboys, who in 2009 was convicted of multiple sexual assaults on his passengers. She later recalled Worboys offering her champagne and vodka, which she believed was spiked and, after returning home, "vomiting and laughing hysterically before passing out until 3pm the next day".
Symonds was one of fourteen women who testified against Worboys at his trial. She subsequently told The Telegraph that he was "a sad, wicked man who is a danger to society. I feel so angry that he pleaded not guilty and made us go through the pain of giving evidence in court".
Symonds was the youngest of Worboys' victims, and waived her anonymity to talk about her experiences and, later, to campaign against his early release, fundraising for a successful judicial review of the decision.
Public and personal life
She reportedly began an affair with British politician Boris Johnson, then the Foreign Secretary, in 2018 while he was still married to his second wife, Marina Wheeler. In July 2019, Johnson became prime minister and both he and Symonds officially moved into 10 Downing Street. The following month, she was barred from entering the United States as her visa application was rejected due to a previous visit to Somaliland, which the US considers to be part of immigration-restricted Somalia. On 16 August 2019, she made her first public appearance since entering 10 Downing Street, when she addressed what she called the "gigantic" climate crisis.
Concerns over the influence of Symonds on the prime minister were raised in January 2020, when it came to light that Symonds received briefs from animal rights activists just before government came to pull a planned cull[clarification needed] on badgers in Derbyshire. An association representing farmers, the NFU, asserted that this meeting and Symonds' influence played a key role in the government ignoring scientific advice in favour of retaining the cull. According to The Guardian, a judicial review has been granted permission to examine how the decision was reached.
On 29 February 2020, Symonds and Johnson announced that they became engaged in late 2019 and were expecting a baby in mid-2020. Their son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, was born on 29 April 2020 at University College Hospital in London. Symonds is a practising Catholic and had Wilfred baptised into the Catholic Church.
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