John Whittingdale

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The Right Honourable
John Whittingdale
JFA Whittingdale public photo.jpg
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Assumed office
11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sajid Javid
Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee
In office
14 July 2005 – 11 May 2015
Preceded by Sir Gerald Kaufman
Succeeded by Jesse Norman
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
19 June 2004 – 6 May 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Julie Kirkbride
Succeeded by Theresa May
In office
23 July 2002 – 8 December 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Tim Yeo
Succeeded by Julie Kirkbride
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
18 September 2001 – 23 July 2002
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Heathcoat-Amory
Succeeded by Tim Yeo
Member of Parliament
for Maldon
Maldon and East Chelmsford (1997–2010)
South Colchester and Maldon (1992–1997)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by John Wakeham
Majority 19,407 (40.5%)
Personal details
Born (1959-10-16) 16 October 1959 (age 56)
Sherborne, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Ancilla Murfitt (Divorced)
Children 2
Alma mater University College London
Religion Anglicanism

John Flasby Lawrance Whittingdale OBE PC (born 16 October 1959)[1] is a Conservative politician and UK Government minister.

He has represented Maldon as its Member of Parliament (MP) since 1992 and is Vice Chairman of the 1922 Committee. He was a member of the Executive of Conservative Way Forward (2005–10) and the Conservative Party Board (2006–10).

Whittingdale was appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport by David Cameron on 11 May 2015.[2]


OBE insignia

Whittingdale was educated at Sandroyd School[3] and Winchester College, followed by University College London (UCL) where he was Chairman of UCL Conservative Society. He graduated with a 2:2 in Economics (1982).[4][5]

Early life[edit]

From 1982–84, Whittingdale was head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department. He then served as Special Adviser to three successive Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry, Norman Tebbit, 1984–85; Leon Brittan, 1985–86, and Paul Channon, 1986–87. He worked on international privatisation at NM Rothschild in 1987 and in January 1988, became Political Secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Upon her resignation Whittingdale was appointed OBE and continued to serve as her Political Secretary until being elected to Parliament in 1992.[6]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Whittingdale entered the House of Commons in 1992 and was appointed PPS to Eric Forth, Minister of State for Education and Employment but resigned, as is customary, after voting against the government for an amendment that would have allowed media publishers with more than a 20 per cent share of the national press market to buy an ITV company.[7]

He was later Shadow Culture Secretary from 2004 until the reshuffle following the general election in 2005, at which he was returned as Member of Parliament for Maldon and Chelmsford East. In 2005 he was appointed to the Executive of Conservative Way Forward, a Thatcherite pressure group within the Conservative Party. He is a council member of the Freedom Association and of the European Foundation. In 2008, he was elected as a Parliamentary Member to the Board of the Conservative Party and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary 1922 Committee. In 2011 he was Chairman of the Football Governance Inquiry. In 2012 he was Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Privacy and Injunctions. He now serves as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group.

Whittingdale was among the 175 MPs who voted against the Same-sex Marriage Bill in 2013.[8] In 2014 Whittingdale along with six other Conservative Party MPs voted against the Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill which would require all companies with more than 250 employees to declare the gap in pay between the average male and average female salaries.[9]

Whittingdale was sworn of the Privy Council in May 2015.[10]

Media Select Committee[edit]

On 14 July 2005,[11] he became the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. In this role he led the committee's 2009/2010 investigation into libel and privacy issues, including the News International phone hacking scandal after The Guardian first revealed the extent of the practice at the News of the World. He was alleged to have warned members of the committee to consider not compelling former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to testify due to the potential risk that their personal lives would be investigated in revenge, but has strongly denied the accusation.[12] In April 2011, he called for a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World and to why a series of investigations by Scotland Yard failed to link any News International employees to phone hacking other than the News of the World's former royal editor, Clive Goodman. Whittingdale said: "There are some very big questions; what I find [most] worrying is the apparent unwillingness of the police, who had the evidence and chose to do nothing with it. That's something that needs to be looked into."[13]

With just one out of three of News International's senior executives agreeing to appear before the committee session on 19 July, Whittingdale took the rarely used step of issuing a summons to compel the Murdochs to attend.[14] Whittingdale said Select Committees had taken such steps against individuals in the past and they had complied and continued "I hope very much that the Murdochs will respond similarly."[15] They both did, on 19 July, in what one paper described as the most important Select Committee hearing in parliamentary history.[16]

For its successful work on the phone hacking scandal, Whittingdale accepted The Spectator's 2011 "Inquisitor of the Year" award on behalf of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Funding and expenses[edit]

In 2012 Whittingdale received £8000 for 32 hours' work as a non-executive director of Audio Network plc, an online music catalogue.[17] He was also reimbursed expenses for official visits to Yalta, Taiwan and Armenia.[17]

Personal life[edit]

The only son of John Whittingdale FRCS[18] and Margaret née Napier,[19] via his mother Whittingdale is in distant remainder to the lordship of Napier.[20]

Whittingdale married Ancilla Campbell Murfitt in 1990,[21] a nurse in general practice at Colchester: they had two children before their marriage was dissolved in 2007.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Democracy Live: Your representatives: John Whittingdale". BBC News. 
  2. ^ John Whittingdale becomes UK culture secretary, BBC, 11 May 2015
  3. ^ Sandroyd School's list of Distinguished Alumni
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Debrett's People of Today
  7. ^ The Independent And the Real Winners Will Be..., 18 July 2011
  8. ^ "Gay marriage how did your mp vote Map". 6 February 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Equal Pay: Seven male Tory MPs vote against bill to make big companies reveal gender pay gap". 16 December 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The MPs who will take on the Murdochs". The Daily Telegraph (London). 18 July 2011. 
  13. ^ The Guardian report on hacking, 13 April 2011
  14. ^ Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to give evidence to Parliament
  15. ^ The Guardian report on hacking scandal, 14 July 2011.
  16. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Owen, Paul; Wells, Matt (19 July 2011). "Phone hacking: Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks face MPs". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^ a b "John Whittingdale Conservative MP for Maldon". Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  18. ^ Plarr's Lives of RCS Fellows Online
  19. ^ Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 2862 (NAPIER, L). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1. 
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Video clips[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Wakeham
Member of Parliament
for Colchester South and Maldon

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Maldon and East Chelmsford

Member of Parliament
for Maldon

Political offices
Preceded by
David Heathcoat-Amory
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Tim Yeo
Preceded by
Tim Yeo
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Julie Kirkbride
Preceded by
Julie Kirkbride
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Theresa May
Preceded by
Sajid Javid
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport