Gavin Barwell

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The Lord Barwell
Official portrait of Lord Barwell crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Downing Street Chief of Staff
In office
10 June 2017 – 24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byFiona Hill
Nick Timothy
Succeeded byEdward Lister
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
17 July 2016 – 9 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byBrandon Lewis
Succeeded byAlok Sharma
Minister for London
In office
17 July 2016 – 9 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byTessa Jowell (2010)
Succeeded byGreg Hands
Comptroller of the Household
In office
11 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDon Foster
Succeeded byMel Stride
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
15 July 2014 – 11 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAnne Milton
Succeeded byGeorge Hollingbery
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
7 October 2019
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Croydon Central
In office
6 May 2010 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byAndrew Pelling
Succeeded bySarah Jones
Personal details
Born (1972-01-23) 23 January 1972 (age 50)
Cuckfield, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Karen McKenzie
Children3 sons
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
WebsiteOfficial website
Official Twitter

Gavin Laurence Barwell, Baron Barwell PC (born 23 January 1972) is a British politician and former Downing Street Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Theresa May. A member of the Conservative Party, he was Member of Parliament for Croydon Central from 2010 until 2017.

Barwell worked for the Conservative Party headquarters from 1993 until his election in 2010 and was – between 2003 and 2006 – the party's Chief Operating Officer, sitting on the party board and working closely with the party leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron. He was a councillor in the London Borough of Croydon between 1998 and 2010.

He served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning in the First May ministry.

Barwell was appointed to the Privy Council in April 2017, alongside fellow Conservative minister Mel Stride. Shortly after losing his Parliamentary seat, he was appointed Downing Street Chief of Staff by Theresa May, following the resignations of Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy on 10 June 2017. He was awarded a Life Peerage in 2019.

Early life and career[edit]

Gavin Laurence Barwell was born in January 1972 in Cuckfield, West Sussex, and subsequently moved to Croydon, South London, where he was educated at the Trinity School of John Whitgift.[1][2] He read for a degree in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union, and graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1993.[2][3]

Party worker and councillor (1993–2010)[edit]

After graduating, Barwell was employed by the Conservative Central Office in a number of roles between 1993 and 2010.[2]

He worked at the Conservative Research Department from 1993 to 1995 as a desk officer in the home affairs section responsible for housing, local government, the environment and inner cities. He replaced James Gray as Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Environment John Gummer from 1995 to 1997, and was the Head of Local Government from 1998 to 2003. He served as the Chief Operating Officer in the Campaigns Headquarters between 2003 and 2006 before being employed as a "consultant" until 2010.[2]

He worked with Deputy Party Chairman Lord Ashcroft's target seat scheme, and significantly contributed to the Conservatives' 2010 general election plan.[4]

In May 1998, Barwell was elected to Croydon Council representing the Woodcote and Coulsdon West ward. In May 2006, when the Conservatives took control of the Council, he was appointed Chief Whip of the Conservative Group and he subsequently served as the Cabinet member for resources and customer services and the Cabinet member for community safety and cohesion before standing down from the Council in May 2010.[2]

Parliamentary career (2010–2017)[edit]


Barwell was chosen as the parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party in Croydon Central. At the 2010 general election he defeated the sitting Independent MP, Andrew Pelling, who had previously been elected as a Conservative. Barwell gained 39.5% of the vote; his majority was 2,969 votes, the Labour candidate came second.[5] His main subject interests are education, urban policy, policing, the criminal justice system, immigration and asylum rights. He was a member of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee (2010–2012) and the Draft Lords Reform Bill Joint Committee (2011–2012) and, until October 2013, Barwell was Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils.

Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill (2012–13)[edit]

On 14 June 2012, Barwell announced that, having come fourth in the Private Members Bill ballot,[6] he would introduce the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill.[7][8][9] The legislation is designed to remove automatic bans from people who have received treatment for mental illness from undertaking jury service, being removed as directors of companies and as MPs.[8][9]

The Bill was introduced in June 2012 and passed its Second Reading on 14 September 2012,[10] supported by all political parties[9] before passing its committee stage in October 2012[10] with the full support of all committee members.[11] The Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill passed the Commons on 30 November 2012[10] before the Bill moved to the House of Lords where it was sponsored by Lord Stevenson of Coddenham.[7] The bill passed its first reading in the Lords on 3 December 2012 and its third reading on 11 February 2013. The Bill became an Act of Parliament after receiving Royal Assent on 28 February 2013.[12]

Lillian's Law[edit]

Lillian's Law is a law-reform campaign named after Lillian Groves, a 14-year-old constituent of Barwell's who was killed outside her home in New Addington by a driver under the influence of drugs.[13] He was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment, reduced to four months by entering a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity.[14]

Barwell successfully lobbied the Prime Minister, David Cameron to introduce legislation to make driving under the influence of drugs a similar offence to driving under the influence of alcohol.[13][15][16] Cameron met the Groves family and legislation was included in the 2012 Queen's Speech. The legislation created a new offence under the Crime and Courts Act 2013.[17]

PPS and junior minister[edit]

Barwell was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Greg Clark, Minister for Cities and Decentralisation. In September 2012, he was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Education.[18] The Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Barwell to the position of Assistant Government Whip on 7 October 2013.[16] On 15 July 2014, Cameron promoted Barwell to the position of Government Whip, Lord Commissioner.[19]

At the 2015 election, Barwell retained his seat with a majority of just 165.[20] Barwell's book, How to Win a Marginal Seat: My Year Fighting for my Political Life, was published in March 2016.[21][22] At the 2017 general election held just 15 months later, Barwell lost his marginal seat.

He was Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London from July 2016 to June 2017.[23][20]

Deletion of material from Wikipedia[edit]

In December 2014, the local paper The Croydon Advertiser called on Barwell to "stop launching campaigns" and "persistent attempts at headline-grabbing" saying "Gavin, we get it, there's an election on."[24]

The page on Wikipedia was one of a number edited ahead of the 2015 general election by computers inside parliament; an act which The Daily Telegraph said "appears to be a deliberate attempt to hide embarrassing information from the electorate".[25]

Allegations of electoral fraud[edit]

In May 2016, a member of the public complained to the Metropolitan Police Service over possible electoral fraud in Barwell's 2015 election campaign.[26] The claims relate to the number of leaflets Barwell delivered in his constituency, as undelivered election material does not fall under the election spending limit.[27]

Barwell denied the claims, saying he followed 'proper process' when filing the election expenses.[26] Barwell was found in a separate investigation to be in breach of the Code of Conduct by Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.[28] However, the Police investigation concluded in October 2016 that there was no case to answer.[citation needed]

Fire safety at Grenfell[edit]

In the run up to the Grenfell disaster, Barwell was contacted seven times by the Fire Safety and Rescue All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), chaired by the late David Amess MP.[29] Their warnings of the potentially deadly consequences of Class 0 fire rated materials had gone largely unanswered, with the last letter being sent 26 days ahead of the tower fire.[30] At a similar time, a letter of concern about the use of these materials in residential buildings, particularly blocks of flats, was issued by the London Fire Brigade Commissioner, which had also gone unanswered.[31] In June 2021, Barwell was invited to give evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry along with 4 other MPs.[32]

2017 defeat[edit]

In the snap general election of 2017, Barwell lost his seat to Labour's Sarah Jones[20] by 5,652 votes.[33] When he lost his seat he was awarded a "loss of office" (redundancy) grant of £8,802 in line with his age and length of parliamentary service. He returned the full amount to IPSA upon his appointment as Downing Street chief of staff.[34] In December 2018 it was announced that he would not be the Conservative candidate in the next election in Croydon Central.[35]

Downing Street Chief of staff (2017–2019)[edit]

On 10 June 2017, Theresa May appointed Barwell Downing Street Chief of Staff. Following the Grenfell Tower fire of 14 June 2017, he was criticised by The Independent for adding to delays in publishing a report into fire safety which followed the 2009 Lakanal House fire.[36] The day following the fire, he walked past journalists but refused to answer any questions.[37]

Following the departure of Theresa May as Prime Minister in July 2019, Barwell stepped down as Chief of Staff and was replaced by Dominic Cummings and Sir Eddie Lister.[38]

In November 2020 Atlantic Books acquired the rights to Barwell's book, Chief of Staff: My Time as the Prime Minister's Right-Hand Man, that was published in September 2021.[39]

House of Lords[edit]

Barwell was nominated for a life peerage in Theresa May's Resignation Honours List in September 2019.[40][41] He was created Baron Barwell, of Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon, on 7 October 2019.[42]

Personal life[edit]

Barwell married Karen McKenzie in 2001. His wife, a speech and language therapist, previously worked at Applegarth School in New Addington. The couple have three sons.[2] He had cancer as a child.[43]



  1. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8736.
  2. ^ a b c d e f ‘BARWELL, Gavin Laurence’ Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013; online edition (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Is This Man Trying To Undermine Sadiq Khan?". Londonist. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  4. ^ Top 50 New MPs Archived 4 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine Total Politics
  5. ^ Election 2010 – Croydon Central Archived 24 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine BBC News, 7 May 2010; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  6. ^ Bill-by-bill: Guide to MPs' private members' bills Archived 6 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, 25 June 2012; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  7. ^ a b Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill 2012–13 Archived 3 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, UK Parliament, 28 February 2013; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  8. ^ a b Deborah Orr Good to hear MPs talking about their mental health issues Archived 9 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Guardian, 16 June 2012; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  9. ^ a b c 'Discriminatory' ban on MPs with mental health issues to be axed Archived 7 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, 14 September 2012; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  10. ^ a b c Bill stages — Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill 2012–13 Archived 26 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, UK Parliament; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  11. ^ Clause 37 – drugs and driving Archived 12 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine TheyWorkForYou, 7 February 2013
  12. ^ Parliamentary Business, House of Lords, 28 February 2013 Archived 9 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine UK Parliament
  13. ^ a b Davies, Gareth (13 April 2012). "Major step forward for a new drug-driving law". Croydon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Lillian's family want names for drug-test petition". Croydon Advertiser. 30 September 2011. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  15. ^ "MP Barwell: 'Meeting David Cameron was a big step forward for campaign'". Croydon Advertiser. 2 December 2011. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  16. ^ a b Davies, Gareth (11 October 2013). "Gavin Barwell appointed whip in government reshuffle". Croydon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  17. ^ Davies, Gareth (19 June 2013). "MP inspired by Lillian's Law proposes further drug-driving reforms". Croydon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  18. ^ Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell nets new job with Michael Gove Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine Croydon Advertiser, 12 September 2012; Retrieved 28 December 2012
  19. ^ Gavin Barwell Archived 21 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine, GOV.UK; Retrieved 21 August 2014
  20. ^ a b c Election latest: Defeated MP Gavin Barwell appointed Theresa May's new chief of staff Archived 12 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Independent, 10 June 2017
  21. ^ "9781785900471". Lookup by ISBN. Retrieved 11 June 2017.[dead link]
  22. ^ Keith Simpson MP (22 April 2016). "Book review: How To Win A Marginal Seat". Total Politics. Dods Group. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  23. ^ Jane Dudman (19 July 2016). "A quick guide to new housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Tory MP is told to stop pestering his constituents". The Independent. 21 December 2014. Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  25. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (26 May 2015). "Expenses and sex scandal deleted from MPs' Wikipedia pages by computers inside Parliament". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  26. ^ a b Davies, Gareth. "Croydon MP Gavin Barwell 'confident' in election expenses despite police complaint". Croydon Advertiser. Local World. Retrieved 16 May 2016.[dead link]
  27. ^ "The MP for creative accountancy?". Private Eye. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016 – via Internet Archive.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  28. ^ "Gavin Barwell MP | Draft Report" (PDF). UK Parliament. 9 July 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  29. ^ "Fire Brigades Union statement on the death of Sir David Amess MP". Fire Brigades Union. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Special investigation – The lost lessons of Lakanal: how politicians missed the chance to stop Grenfell". Inside Housing. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Grenfell inquiry: fire chief warned ministers of high-rise faults before fire". The Guardian. 25 November 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  32. ^ insidecroydon (3 June 2021). "Barwell and four ex-ministers summoned to Grenfell inquiry". Inside Croydon. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  33. ^ "Croydon Central parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Loss of Office Payments" (Excel). Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. £8,802 (Returned full amount to IPSA)
  35. ^ "Conservatives select parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central". Sutton & Croydon Guardian. Newsquest (London & Essex). 11 December 2018. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  36. ^ Watts, Joe. "Gavin Barwell: Theresa May's new chief of staff faces questions over delayed tower block fire safety review". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  37. ^ Horton, Helena; Swinford, Steven (16 June 2017). "Gavin Barwell, Theresa May's new chief of staff, refuses to answer questions over role in fire safety review". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  38. ^ Peter Walker (24 July 2019). "Dominic Cummings of Vote Leave named key Johnson adviser". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  39. ^ "Atlantic to publish Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell's account of his time as Theresa May's right hand man". Northbank Talent Management. 24 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  40. ^ "Boycott 'doesn't give a toss' about knighthood criticism". BBC News. 10 September 2019. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  41. ^ Rowena Mason; Rajeev Syal (10 September 2019). "Theresa May accused of cronyism over resignation honours list". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  42. ^ "No. 62794". The London Gazette. 11 October 2019. p. 18260.
  43. ^ Gimson, Andrew (14 May 2015). "Interview: Gavin Barwell – the ultimate Tory proof of how incumbency can be made to work". ConservativeHome. Michael Ashcroft. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
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