Joan Ryan

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Joan Ryan

Official portrait of Joan Ryan crop 2.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration
In office
5 May 2006 – 29 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Sec. of StateJohn Reid
Preceded byAndy Burnham
Succeeded byMeg Hillier
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
13 June 2003 – 5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
ChancellorGordon Brown
Assistant Government Whip
In office
29 May 2002 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Chief WhipHilary Armstrong
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byNick de Bois
Majority10,247 (21.1%)
In office
1 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byTim Eggar
Succeeded byNick de Bois
Personal details
Born (1955-09-08) 8 September 1955 (age 63)
Warrington, Lancashire, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Martin Hegarty
Alma materCity of Liverpool College of Higher Education
Polytechnic of the South Bank

Joan Marie Ryan (born 8 September 1955) is a British Labour Party politician. She has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Enfield North since 2015, having previously represented the constituency from 1997–2010. She is currently chair of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI).

Ryan studied sociology and worked as a teacher in London before being elected as a councillor on Barnet London Borough Council in 1990. She served as deputy leader of the council from 1994–1998. She was a government whip under Tony Blair from 2002–2006, a junior Home Office minister from 2006–2007, and the Prime Minister's Special Representative to Cyprus from 2007–2008.

She lost her seat in the 2010 general election to Conservative Nick de Bois, and was deputy campaign director of NOtoAV in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum. Ryan was re-elected in Enfield North in the 2015 general election. She became chair of LFI in 2015, and has been noted as a critic of the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Early life and education[edit]

Ryan was born in Warrington, Lancashire. She attended local schools before studying history and sociology at the City of Liverpool College of Higher Education. She graduated in 1979 and went on to study for a master's degree in sociology at Polytechnic of the South Bank, graduating in 1981. She taught sociology and politics in Hammersmith and also worked as an interviewer for the Imperial War Museum in the 1980s.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Barnet council, 1990–1998[edit]

Ryan was elected as a councillor on Barnet London Borough Council, representing the Labour Party, in 1990. She became chair of the policy and resources committee in 1994, before becoming deputy leader of the council later that year. She served on the council and as deputy leader until 1998.[3] Among her colleagues on the council at the time was Liberal Democrat Monroe Palmer, who now sits in the House of Lords.[4]

Blair and Brown governments, 1997–2010[edit]

Ryan was elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for Enfield North in the 1997 general election.[5] In her first years as an MP, she was known as an advocate for Greek Cypriots in her constituency and in the Commons, and also as an opponent of Ken Livingstone during the creation of the Greater London Authority (GLA).[5] She sat on the board of the London Labour Party and defended a vetting panel for mayoral candidates that was accused of bias.[6] In response to Livingtone's campaign to get on the ballot, Ryan said "It is not acceptable. I think the public are fed up with it. He should wait his turn."[7]

She was appointed as parliamentary private secretary to Andrew Smith in 1998, and as an assistant whip in 2002.[5] A parliamentary question from Ryan in January 2000, on the topic of businesses breaking the UN sanctions on Angola, led Foreign Office minister Peter Hain to name three businessmen who he claimed had been breaking the sanctions.[8] In January 2001, Ryan voted in favour of a ban on hunting.[9] She was appointed as a junior minister at the Home Office in Tony Blair's May 2006 reshuffle.[10] In July, a report authored by Ryan was leaked to The Mail on Sunday; it said that a surge in immigration from eastern Europe in 2007 could put pressure on Britain's education, health, and welfare services, and could also lead to "potentially serious" consequences for community cohesion.[11]

In April 2007, she launched a campaign to promote the achievements and financial struggles of 'supplementary schools', based on the concerns of Enfield Turkish School in her constituency, and she sent a dossier to Andrew Adonis to that effect.[12] In June 2007, she became vice-chair of the Labour Party.[13] She was also removed as a Home Office minister and appointed as the Prime Minister's Special Representative to Cyprus.[14] In September 2008, she was revealed by Siobhain McDonagh to have requested leadership nomination papers ahead of the party's annual conference.[15] Ryan said that it was time for the party's "direction and leadership" to be debated openly. Gordon Brown subsequently sacked her from her Cyprus and Labour Party roles.[16]

In 2009, Ryan led delegations of MPs on two international trips, one to Canberra and Melbourne in Australia, and the other to Cameroon.[17] A man was acquitted of harassing Ryan in March 2010 on the grounds of insanity. Ryan, who lived on the same street as the man, had stayed away from her house with her family since January, following two incidents that had left her "terrified".[18]

Expenses controversies[edit]

In October 2007, the Evening Standard reported that Ryan had claimed £173,691 in expenses in the 2006/2007 tax year, the highest of any MP in London. She had been the second highest claimant in the previous tax year.[19] In May 2007, Ryan had voted in favour of David Maclean's Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, which would have kept details of parliamentary expenses secret.[20]

During the parliamentary expenses scandal, The Daily Telegraph revealed in May 2009 that Ryan had spent £4,500 of expenses on a second home in Enfield before "flipping" it with her main home, a flat in south London. Between 2004 and 2008, she had designated her house in Enfield, which was in her constituency, as a second home. She designated her main home during that period as a south London flat she bought in 2004. She had spent £1,045 on repairs and refurbishment to the second home in 2007/2008, and £3,624 on it during 2008/2009. The work was covered by the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA).[20]

In response to the report, Ryan said that she had not made any claims for refurbishment on her south London flat and therefore had not "flipped" the properties to maximise the benefit of the allowances. She told the Telegraph that when she was in government, the rules required her to designate her flat as her main home because it was closest to Parliament. After leaving government, she decided to change it to the Enfield house as she had "returned to spending more time" there.[20][21] In Thomas Legg's February 2010 audit report of expenses claims, Ryan was asked to repay £5,121.74 for mortgage interest claims. By the time of publication of the report, she had only paid £322.45.[22][23] In response to her role in the expenses scandal, a campaign group formed in 2013 called 'Apologise, Joan', asking her to make a public apology.[24]

The Independent reported in March 2012 that "at least 10 attempts" were made from computers on the Parliamentary estate to remove information about Ryan's expenses from her Wikipedia article. A further 20 attempts were made from inside her former constituency of Enfield North.[25] In his humorous "2010 Editing Wikipedia From Inside Parliament Awards", Tom Scott gave the anonymous editor of Ryan's page the "Sweeping Things Under The Carpet Award".[26] In November 2014, the Enfield Independent reported that a section titled "Involvement in the expenses scandal" had been removed from her page. In response, Ryan said that allegations she had altered the entry were "categorically untrue" and that this was a "politically-motivated smear campaign against" her.[23] The Daily Telegraph reported on the incident in the campaign for the 2015 general election.[27]

NOtoAV and 2015 campaign, 2010–2015[edit]

Ryan was defeated by Conservative candidate Nick de Bois by 1,692 votes in the 2010 general election.[28] After losing her seat, she was appointed Chief Executive of the Global Tamil Forum, and later became deputy director of the successful NOtoAV campaign.[29]

In March 2013, Ryan announced she was to seek re-selection by Labour to contest the Enfield North constituency at the 2015 general election.[30] After her reselection, several constituents wrote to her local paper, the Enfield Advertiser, suggesting that voters had not yet forgotten the revelations about her expenses in 2009.[31] She regained her seat in the House of Commons with a majority of 1,086 votes.

Labour leadership of Corbyn, 2015–present[edit]

In August 2015, Ryan became Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel. In the 2015 Labour leadership election campaign, she urged those voting to choose a candidate who in government could "play a constructive and engaged role in the crucial search for a" two-state solution to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In particular, she noted the "deep concerns" that she said arose from the positions Jeremy Corbyn had taken in the past and the "serious questions which arise from these".[4]

In the Al-Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, Ryan was secretly filmed having a discussion with a fellow member of the Labour Party. The member, Jean Fitzpatrick, is filmed questioning Ryan on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. At one point, Fitzpatrick mentions Labour Friends of Israel enjoying a certain amount of influence and prestige, having helped a friend's son gain a place at Oxford University. This was then reported by Ryan as a case of anti-Semitism, who accused the member of repeating a classic anti-Semitic trope.[32][better source needed]

During the 2017 general election campaign, Ryan urged constituents in her election literature to vote for her because she was "independent-minded" in the context of the perceived unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn.[33] She wrote in her election letter that constituents she had spoken to had more faith in Theresa May as PM, than in Corbyn as May's potential successor. Ryan, in-line with most opinion polls, said she expected May's government to return with a much larger number of MPs, but argued that she was well placed to combat such a Conservative majority.[33][34] It was the fifth time Ryan and Nick de Bois had stood against each other.[35]

On 6 September 2018, her Constituency Labour Party narrowly passed a motion of no confidence in her.[36] Ryan blamed her defeat on 'Trots, Stalinists and communists' who have entered the Enfield North Labour Party. [37]

Personal life[edit]

As of May 2009 Ryan lived in Enfield with her husband, Martin Hegarty, and their children. She has three grandchildren.[38]

Although she lives in the London Borough of Enfield, Ryan does not live in her constituency of Enfield North. She lives in the more affluent west of the borough.[39]


  1. ^ Carr, Tim, ed. (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015. Biteback Publishing. pp. 'Joan Ryan'.
  2. ^ "London South Bank University congratulates alumni on election successes". London South Bank University. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Joan Ryan". BBC News. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b Dysch, Marcus (20 September 2017). "Joan Ryan: 'I won't walk away from my principles'". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Joan Ryan". BBC News. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  6. ^ Waugh, Paul (30 January 1999). "Labour vetting panel has 'bias to stop Livingstone'". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  7. ^ Waugh, Paul (9 February 1999). "'Support me' campaign by Livingstone". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  8. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (19 January 2000). "Unita 'sanctions busters' named". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  9. ^ "The Hunting debate: How MPs voted". The Guardian. 18 January 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Full list of junior ministers". The Guardian. 8 May 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  11. ^ Tempest, Matthew (31 July 2006). "New EU migrants may put pressure on public services, says report". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  12. ^ Gould, Mark (3 April 2007). "Supplementary benefits". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  13. ^ Revill, Jo (15 July 2007). "The £4,800 cheque that tripped Cameron's man". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  15. ^ Percival, Jenny (12 September 2008). "Labour whip forced to resign over leadership contest call". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Brown sacks Cyprus envoy Joan Ryan over leadership comments". The Scotsman. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  17. ^ "CPA UK Annual Review 2009/2010" (PDF). Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  18. ^ Crown, Hannah (10 March 2010). "Man acquitted of harassing Enfield North MP Joan Ryan on grounds of insanity". Enfield Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  19. ^ Cecil, Nicholas; Waugh, Paul; Murphy, Joe (26 October 2007). "Revealed: London MPs claiming £9m expenses". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  20. ^ a b c Leach, Ben; Jamieson, Alastair (17 May 2009). "Joan Ryan: expenses switch after £4,500 spend". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  21. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail". BBC News. 19 June 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  22. ^ "MPs' expenses: the Legg report's full list of MPs and their repayments". The Guardian. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  23. ^ a b Thain, Bruce (4 September 2014). "Details from Wikipedia page of former Enfield North MP Joan Ryan mysteriously removed". Enfield Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Home". Apologise, Joan. 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  25. ^ Pegg, David; Wright, Oliver (9 March 2012). "Who are the Commons moles changing Wikipedia entries?". The Independent. London.
  26. ^ Scott, Tom. "The 2010 "Editing Wikipedia From Inside Parliament" Awards". Tom Scott. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  27. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (26 May 2015). "Expenses and sex scandal deleted from MPs' Wikipedia pages by computers inside Parliament". The Telegraph.
  28. ^ BBC. "General election 2010 results – Enfield North". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  29. ^ Wilson, Peter (16 April 2011). "Referendum puts Nick Clegg in the crosshairs". The Australian.
  30. ^ Leach, Ben (17 May 2009). "Joan Ryan: expenses switch after £4,500 spend". The Daily Telegraph.
  31. ^ Mason, Rowena (24 June 2013). "Labour reselect Joan Ryan, former MP criticised over expenses". The Daily Telegraph.
  32. ^ Winstanley, Asa (6 September 2018). "Local party votes to oust Labour MP who faked anti-Semitism charge". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  33. ^ a b Elgot, Jessica (2 June 2017). "Back me despite Corbyn as May will win, Labour candidate urges voters". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  34. ^ Watts, Joe (2 June 2017). "Labour candidate defending London seat admits people have more confidence in Theresa May than Jeremy Corbyn". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  35. ^ Harpin, Lee (8 May 2017). "Labour owes Jews an apology, says Joan Ryan". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  36. ^ "LFI chair Joan Ryan loses local no confidence vote by 94 votes to 92". Jewish News. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Election 2010: Joan Ryan, Labour Candidate for Enfield North". Enfield Independent. Newsquest Media. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  39. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tim Eggar
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North

Succeeded by
Nick de Bois
Preceded by
Nick de Bois
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North