John Hemming (politician)

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John Hemming
John Hemming Parliament.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Yardley
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Estelle Morris
Succeeded by Jess Phillips
Majority 3,002 (7.3%)
Personal details
Born John Alexander Melvin Hemming
(1960-03-16) 16 March 1960 (age 56)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford

John Alexander Melvin Hemming (born 16 March 1960) is a British Liberal Democrat politician and a businessman. He served as the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley from 2005 to 2015.

Hemming was an elected councillor for the South Yardley Ward and Group Chair of the Liberal Democrats on Birmingham City Council until 1 May 2008. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley at the 2005 general election. He was the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat to win a parliamentary seat in Birmingham since Wallace Lawler won in Birmingham Ladywood in 1969. In 2004, Hemming became deputy leader of Birmingham City Council in a deal where the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats shared control of the City Council. He stood down from this position on his election to parliament in 2005.

In 2007 he became Liberal Democrat Spokesman for the West Midlands and led the West Midlands Liberal Democrat team of spokespeople with Lorely Burt as the Deputy Leader.

Early life[edit]

Hemming was born in Birmingham. His father was an electrical contractor and his mother a supply teacher.[1] He was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he won the Rickard Prize for Arithmetic and was a Scholar specialising in Theoretical, Atomic and Nuclear Physics at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he showed an early interest in politics, standing as the Liberal Party candidate for Secretary of the Oxford University Student Union. He was beaten into fourth place by the 'Silly Party' candidate – the pet dog of the master of St Catherine's College, Oxford.[2]

Business career[edit]

Hemming is a director of JHC plc, a provider of software applications and related services for the securities industry.[1] Their products include trading, asset management and settlement systems for brokers and investment managers. JHC made Hemming a millionaire by the age of 27, and the company had an annual turnover of £12m by 2011.[1] In 2009 Hemming was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the company.[3]

In 1997, Hemming also set up his own record company, Music Mercia International.[4]

Political career[edit]

Hemming was first elected to Birmingham City Council in 1990, in Acocks Green ward. He moved to the South Yardley ward following boundary changes in 2004. He ceased to be a member of Birmingham City Council following the elections on 1 May 2008 when he did not run for re-election.

He has fought a number of general elections: in 1983 (Hall Green), 1987 (Small Heath) and 1992, 1997 and 2001 (Yardley) before winning in 2005. He was re-elected in 2010, with a slightly increased majority.[5]

Hemming is a member of the Beveridge Group.[6] He won the "Reform" maths prize.[7]

John Hemming at a rally in support of Hartismere hospital

Following Charles Kennedy's announcement that he would resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, Hemming announced on his weblog that he was taking soundings as to whether to stand. When Kennedy subsequently resigned, Hemming said that he would stand to ensure there was a contest. Hemming was a rank outsider in the contest (some betting odds were in excess of 400–1). The Times reported that he was "an eccentric who left colleagues aghast by threatening to stand".[8] On 13 January 2006, Hemming withdrew his candidature, saying that Lib Dem members did not believe he should stand.[9] He was a nominator for Mark Oaten, but said he would be willing to do the same for any serious candidate. He subsequently declared for the eventual winner, Sir Menzies Campbell.

On 6 December 2010 Hemming's constituency office was temporarily closed by the police after it was occupied by protesters.[10]

Hemming chaired both the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas (APPGOPO), a parliamentary group looking at the issues of fossil fuel depletion,[11] and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law and The Court of Protection set up to address the concerns raised by both the public and professionals working within the family justice system.[12]

In the 2015 general election, Hemming lost in Birmingham Yardley to Jess Phillips of the Labour Party by 6,595 votes.[13][14]

Action on injunctions and free speech[edit]

He is an opponent of super- and hyper-injunctions,[15] and in March 2011, used parliamentary privilege to reveal the existence of a super-injunction granted to former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin during a sitting of the House of Commons.[16][17] Following an incident in May 2011 in which the names of celebrities who had allegedly taken out superinjunctions were revealed on Twitter, he commented: "There is a lot to learn from the USA where freedom of speech is enshrined in their constitution. Where the courts are trying to keep state secrets and Twitter is on the other end, Twitter will win."[18] On 23 May 2011 during a Commons debate he mentioned Ryan Giggs as the footballer involved in one privacy injunction.[19][20] In the final meeting of the Commons before the session closed for summer recess, he mentioned details of an injunction and alleged cover-up involving a doctor employed by a Welsh NHS trust. The said doctor is accused by a fellow doctor and surgical assistants of performing surgeries on cancer patients beyond his expertise, against guidelines and in so doing, endangering the lives of patients.[21][22]

Hemming also aided the case of financial journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, who was banned from the UK for two years during her reporting work on the Jersey child abuse investigation 2008 and Haut de la Garenne. The ban was reduced to one year after his actions on behalf of her. He also made a motion in 2012 regarding St Helier Parish Deputy[23] Trevor Pitman's petition to have her UK visa restored.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Shortly after his election in 2005, he made headlines when it was revealed that he was the father of a child with his personal assistant and (then) fellow councillor Emily Cox, though he would stay with his wife and the couple's three children. His wife Christine commented that she forgave him and is standing by him, as he has always been honest about his extramarital affairs, of which she said this was "about number 26".[25][26] Following the publication of details of the affairs, Hemming voted for himself for the News of the World's 'Love Rat of the Year' competition,[27] dismissing his rivals for the award as "various drab people".[28] In 2010, his wife appeared in court charged with stealing a cat that belonged to Hemming's mistress.[29] Pleading "not guilty" on 7 February 2011, she was bailed and sent for trial in June.[30] After a three day trial at Birmingham Crown Court, she was found guilty on 30 September 2011 and was sentenced to nine months (suspended) for burglary.[31] A month after the trial a cat was found safe and well, having found itself under the care of another family.[32] However, this turned out to be a different cat.[33]

Mumsnet controversy[edit]

Between 1–21 December 2013, Hemming posted frequently[34] on topics on Mumsnet (a British parenting forum) regarding the case of an Italian woman sectioned in Britain with her newborn baby taken into care by British Social Services.[35]

During this debate, he posted extracts from un-redacted documents which named the children of the woman involved, potentially breaking a court order, and he was subsequently banned from the parenting site.[36] After confirming the poster really was MP John Hemming, Mumsnet removed the documents that he had posted but not before they had been seen by many of the forum users.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Lakhani, Nina (9 January 2012). "John Hemming: Self-styled 'love rat of the year' who became scourge of adulterers". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Hemming, John (12 April 2005). "My record as a student politician". Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  4. ^ "Register of Members' Interests on TheyWorkForYou". Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  5. ^ "General Election 2010". 
  6. ^ About usThe Beveridge Group 28 October 2007
  7. ^ Walker, Jonathan (28 October 2008). "Guarded backing for minister". birminghammail. 
  8. ^ Hurst, Greg (13 January 2006). "Party contenders set out their stalls". Times Online. Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  9. ^ Hemming, John (13 January 2006). "Members back Hemming". Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  10. ^ "Student fees protest at Lib Dem John Hemming's office". BBC News. BBC. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Register Of All-Party Groups: Peak Oil and Gas". Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "Register Of All-Party Groups : Family Law and the Court of Protection". Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  13. ^ Elkes, Neil (8 May 2015). "Election 2015: Who won in Yardley?". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  14. ^ "Birmingham Yardley parliamentary constituency - Election 2015". BBC News. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  15. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 17 Mar 2011 (pt 0001)". 
  16. ^ Barr, Robert (11 March 2011). "UK court: ex-RBS chief can't be called a banker". Boston Globe. London. Associated Press. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Swinford, Steven (11 March 2011). "Sir Fred Goodwin, RBS chief, takes out gagging order". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  18. ^ Collins, David (10 May 2011). "Cheating celebrities hiding behind injunctions named on Twitter". Daily Mirror. London. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  19. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Wells, Matt (23 May 2011). "Live blog – May 23". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "House of Commons Hansard debate for 23rd May 2011.". Commons Hansard. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  21. ^ "COVER-UP OPERATION". Private Eye. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  22. ^ "House of Commons Hansard debate for 20th July 2011.". Commons Hansard. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  23. ^ Your Parish Online, St Helier, retr 2012 9 13 from
  24. ^ Early day motion 504, UK Parliament, Session: 2012–13, Date tabled: 11 September 2012, Primary sponsor: Hemming, John. Retr 2012 9 13 from
  25. ^ Britten, Nick (18 June 2005). "My lover is pregnant, MP tells his wife". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 July 2007. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Vote Libido Dem!". The Daily Mirror. 10 January 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  27. ^ "MP bid for Love Rat prize". The Sun. Retrieved 18 September 2007. 
  28. ^ Alleyne, Richard (8 October 2005). "MP gets own vote as 'love rat'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  29. ^ "How millionaire love cheat MP at centre of stolen cat mystery took out £200k loan paid for by YOU". The Daily Mail. 10 January 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  30. ^ Carter, Helen (7 February 2011). "MP's wife sent for trial on kitten 'theft'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "MP John Hemming's wife found guilty of kitten theft". BBC News Online. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  32. ^ "MP John Hemming's cat Beauty stolen by wife is found". BBC News. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  33. ^ "John Hemming Admits Stolen Cat Returned To His Mistress Is An Imposter". Huffington Post. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Child Taken From Womb Debate". Mumsnet. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Freeman, Colin (1 December 2013). "Child taken from womb by social services". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  36. ^ "Did you Ban MP John Hemming?". Mumsnet. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Estelle Morris
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley
Succeeded by
Jess Phillips