John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick
|The Lord Taylor of Warwick|
|Member of the House of Lords|
2 October 1996
|Born||John David Beckett Taylor
21 September 1952
John David Beckett, Baron Taylor of Warwick (born 21 September 1952), is a member of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In 1996, at the age of 43, he became one of the youngest people in the upper house and, at the time of his appointment, the only black peer. He is the third person of Afro-Caribbean origin to enter the House of Lords: the first, Learie Constantine, entered in 1969, and the second, David Pitt, in 1975. Taylor initially practised as a barrister, and has also served as a judge, University Chancellor, company director and television and radio presenter. He identifies himself as a committed Christian.
Born in 1952, Taylor was the son of Jamaican immigrants in Birmingham. His father, Derief Taylor, was a professional cricketer and coach for Warwickshire, and his mother, Enid, was a nurse. Taylor attended Moseley Grammar School in Birmingham where he was head boy, and later attended Keele University where he studied English Literature and Law, followed by the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
Taylor was called to the bar in 1978, by Gray's Inn, where he was also awarded the Gray's Inn Advocacy Award, and Norman Tapp Memorial Prize for excellence in mooting. Taylor undertook his pupillage at 1 Dr Johnson’s Buildings, and then joined the same chambers as the then Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke. Taylor practised from there on the Midland & Oxford Circuit, and was appointed to the Director of Public Prosecutions' list of specialist prosecutors, and also served as Counsel for the Bank of England. In 1997, Taylor was appointed as a part-time deputy district judge (Magistrates' Court).
In between his legal and political career, Taylor has also worked as a television and radio presenter, and was the host of "The John Taylor Programme" on BBC Radio 2, the most popular radio station in the United Kingdom. Other positions he has held include:
- Television Presenter, Crime Stalker (Carlton Television); Talk About (BBC One); Powerhouse (Channel 4)
- Non-executive Director, Currencies Direct LTD (resigned July 2010); Mottram Holdings PLC
- Consultant, Kleinwort Benson Bank
- Chancellor, Bournemouth University, 2001-2006.
- Vice President, National Small Business Bureau; British Board of Film Classification, 1998-2008.
In 1992, Taylor turned his hand to local politics and became active in his local council. He went on to beat 300 other candidates to become the Conservative candidate for Cheltenham at the 1992 general election. The campaign was seen by outsiders as having been heavily influenced by the issue of race, with Taylor's West Indian background causing concern to some members of the local Conservative party. In the end, Taylor lost by 1,668 votes, to the Liberal Democrats, despite the fact that at the time, Cheltenham was regarded as a safe Tory seat. However, his highly publicised campaign brought him to the attention of senior figures in the Conservative party and gave him a certain public standing.
Taylor was made a life peer as Baron Taylor of Warwick, of Warwick in the County of Warwickshire on 2 October 1996, on the recommendation of the then prime minister, John Major. At the age of 43, he became one of the youngest life peers ever to sit in the House of Lords.
Prior to becoming a peer, Taylor had built up a successful legal career, giving him an income of over £100,000 per year. However, after forgoing this career to sit up to five days a week in the House of Lords, Taylor claimed that he had asked other peers for advice on expenses and allowances and that he was told that the overnight subsistence allowance, the office allowance, and the travel expenses were provided in lieu of a salary, as well as the daily attendance allowance. However, this view had proved to be incorrect.
In early 2009, a major political scandal was triggered by the leaking and subsequent publication of expense claims made by members of the United Kingdom Parliament. On 16 July 2010, Taylor resigned the Tory Whip after being charged with six offences of false accounting, connected with claims totalling approximately £11,000 he had made for overnight subsistence when in fact staying in his own home and for travelling expenses for journeys he had not made. He was interviewed by the police, but refused to answer any questions. Although several hundred Parliamentarians were involved in the expenses scandal (some involving claims totaling over £100,000), only six members of the House of Commons and two, including Taylor, of the Lords, were charged and convicted.
Criminal convictions for false accounting
Taylor appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2010. On 25 January 2011, at Southwark Crown Court before Mr Justice Saunders, Taylor was found guilty by the jury on six counts of false accounting, relating to a total of £11,277.80 in false parliamentary expenses claims; Taylor had listed his main residence as an address in Oxford, which was owned by his nephew, while occupying a flat in London. Taylor had claimed payment of travel costs between the premises, and also overnight subsistence expenses for staying in London. In his defence, Taylor stated that it was common practice among peers to claim for such journeys and expenses, and that it was his belief that it was acceptable to do this provided there was a "family connection" with the property. In his summation, Mr Justice Saunders added that Taylor was a man of good character who had devoted a lot of time to helping others.
On 31 May 2011, Taylor was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment. He was released in September 2011 after serving three months of this sentence, under the home detention curfew scheme, a program for "low-risk" persons.
As a result of his criminal convictions, Taylor was disbarred in May 2012. Additionally, following a report from the Privileges Committee, Taylor was suspended from the House of Lords for 12 months from 31 May 2011 to 30 May 2012. The report from the Privileges Committee, and the suspension, followed investigations and recommendations set out in two reports by the independent Lords Commissioner for Standards and the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct.
Personal life and relationships
Taylor married in 1981: he and his wife have three children together and lived in Ealing. They divorced in 2005. The Daily Telegraph reported that Taylor is an evangelical Christian, and in 2009 he married a wealthy evangelical Christian from Florida, where he had lived for a short while. That marriage was annulled in 2010.
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- "Lady Digby Appointed Chancellor". Bournemouth University Press Release. Bournemouth University. November 6, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
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- "MP expenses leak 'not for money'". BBC News. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Prince, Rosa (16 July 2010). "Lord Taylor charged over expenses on relative's house". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Full list of MPs' expenses repayments". BBC News (London). 4 February 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Beckford, Martin (19 November 2009). "First female Muslim peer Baroness Uddin claimed £100,000: MPs’ expenses". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Evans, Martin (20 September 2011). "Expenses MPs and their sentences: how long each served". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Lord Taylor guilty of making false expenses claims". BBC News (London). 25 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Gammell, Caroline (31 May 2011). "Lord Taylor jailed for 12 months over expenses fraud". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Expense: Hanningfield and Taylor freed from jail". BBC News (London). 12 September 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Expenses cheat Lord Taylor of Warwick banned from practising as a lawyer". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 May 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Privileges Committee - Eighth Report, The Conduct of Lord Taylor of Warwick, www.parliament.uk
- "House of Lords suspends Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick", Parliamentary business, 9 November 2011.
- Robert Mendick (29 January 2011). "Lord Taylor: the strange tale of the convicted peer and his 24-day marriage to a wealthy businesswoman". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 January 2011.