Jonathan Fryer

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Jonathan Harold Fryer
Personal details
Born 5 June 1950
Manchester, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Residence London, United Kingdom
Alma mater Manchester Grammar School
St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Profession Politician, writer

Jonathan Harold Fryer (born 5 June 1950) is a British writer, broadcaster, lecturer and Liberal Democrat politician.

He was the Liberal Democrat candidate for the constituency of Poplar and Limehouse in the 2010 general election. As Chairman of the London Liberal Democrats, he supervised the headquarters' move to Brixton and streamlined its operations.

Early life[edit]

Fryer was born in Manchester on 5 June 1950, under the name Graham Leslie Morton. Following the divorce of his natural mother, he was adopted as an infant by a local businessman and his wife, who later spent much of their time in South Africa. He has two natural sisters and one adopted one.


Manchester Grammar School

After private primary education in Eccles, Fryer obtained a place at the independent Manchester Grammar School. He spent the summer of 1967 in Tours, at the Institut Tourain, perfecting his French. He left school before the end of his final year (having acquired 'A’ levels in English Literature, French and Geography) and travelled overland to Vietnam, where he reported on the war for the Manchester Evening News and the Geographical Magazine. His overland journey back to England in September 1969 gave him his first introduction to the Middle East, which has remained an abiding interest.

Fryer had won an Open Exhibition award to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he started to read Geography, before switching to Oriental Studies (Chinese with Japanese). He returned to the Far East for a year in 1971–1972, studying part-time at the University of Hong Kong and in Tokyo.

As a mature student, he has been working on an MSc in Development and Environmental Education.


Fryer joined Reuters news agency as a graduate trainee after university, serving for just over a year in London and Brussels. On receiving his first book contract (for The Great Wall of China) he went freelance, but kept Brussels as his base for seven years, travelling widely in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He returned to England in 1981, settling in London, largely to develop his political interests. As a freelance writer on international affairs, he has worked mainly for the BBC (Radio 4 and World Service), but has also contributed to the Guardian, Independent, Economist, Spectator, Oldie, Tablet, Society Today and Liberal, amongst others.

For a decade, he regularly appeared on the Today Programme's 'Thought for the Day', as a Quaker (having joined the Religious Society of Friends after his experiences in Vietnam), but in recent years has become better known for his despatches in From Our Own Correspondent. He has travelled to 160 countries, reporting, researching or making radio documentaries.

Since 1993, Fryer has taught part-time at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), currently Humanities, and more recently began teaching at City University (Writing Non-Fiction).[1] He lectures frequently on cruise ships, notably around the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, as well as to groups and associations in the UK. Through the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he has given seminars on democracy-building and the media in locations such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Uruguay. He is a Consultant with Public Affairs International (London).


Fryer joined the Young Liberals after Jo Grimond came to his school during the 1964 general election. He was successively Vice-Chairman of the North West Young Liberal Federation and Secretary of the Oxford University Liberal Club. He was elected a London borough councillor (in Bromley) 1986–90, and fought three general elections: Chelsea 1983, Orpington 1987 and Leyton 1992. His main political focus has always been the European Parliament, for which he stood in London South East in the 1979, 1984 and 1994 elections. In the 1999 and 2004 elections he stood on the LibDem list for the London region, coming within 0.6 per cent of winning a seat on the last occasion. He was the No. 2 candidate on the LibDem London list for the European Parliament election in June 2009.

He has held a wide variety of positions within the Liberal Democrats and predecessor parties, including chairing policy panels on international development (currently Chairman of the Liberal International British Group), a member of the LibDems' international relations committee, an elected member of the governing Council of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) and is on the party's Interim Peers' List. As Chairman of the Liberal International British Group, he is automatically a Vice-President of Liberal International worldwide.

He was the Liberal Democrat Prospective parliamentary candidate for his home constituency of Poplar and Limehouse in 2010.


  • The Great Wall of China (1975)
  • Isherwood (1977)
  • Brussels As Seen by Naif Artists (1979, with Rona Dobson)
  • Food for Thought (1981)
  • George Fox and the Children of the Light (1991)
  • Eye of the Camera (1993)
  • Dylan (1993)
  • The Sitwells (1994, with Sarah Bradford and John Pearson)
  • André & Oscar (1997)
  • Soho in the Fifties and Sixties (1998)
  • Robbie Ross (2000)
  • Wilde (2005)
  • Fuelling Kuwait's Development (2007)[2]
  • "Kurdistan 2010"


External links[edit]