Emma Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

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The Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne
Official portrait of Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne crop 2.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
3 November 1997
Life Peerage
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
In office
10 June 1999 – 4 June 2009
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byCatherine Bearder
Member of Parliament
for Torridge and West Devon
In office
11 June 1987 – 1 May 1997
Preceded byPeter Mills
Succeeded byJohn Burnett
Personal details
Emma Harriet Nicholson

(1941-10-16) 16 October 1941 (age 77)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Political partyConservative[1]
Other political
Liberal Democrats (1995–2016)

Emma Harriet Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (born 16 October 1941) is a British politician, who has been a life peer since 1997. She was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon in 1987, before switching to the Liberal Democrats in 1995. She was also Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament for South East England from 1999 to 2009. On 10 September 2016 she announced she was re-joining the Conservative Party "with tremendous pleasure" and would sit on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.[2] In 2017, Baroness Nicholson was appointed as Prime Minister's Trade Envoy for Kazakhstan.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Oxford and a descendant of the family which founded London gin distillers J&W Nicholson & Co, Lady Nicholson is the third of four daughters of Sir Godfrey Nicholson, Bt and his wife, Lady Katharine (the fifth daughter of the 27th Earl of Crawford). She was diagnosed as deaf at the age of 16.[4] She was educated at St Mary's School, Wantage and the Royal Academy of Music. Prior to her political career, she was a computer programmer and systems analyst from 1962 to 1974, and a director of the Save the Children Foundation from 1974 to 1985.


Lady Nicholson contested the constituency of Blyth in 1979, but was defeated. She was elected a Conservative Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon in 1987, having acting as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party between 1983 and 1987. She defected to the Liberal Democrats in 1995, telling Robin Oakley, the BBC's then Political Editor: "The Conservative Party has changed so much, while my principles have not changed at all. I would argue that it is not so much a case of my leaving the party, but the party leaving me." She describes her crossing the floor in her autobiography Secret Society, published in 1996.

She left the Liberal Democrats and became a Member of the Conservatives again in 2016.

She was made a life peer as Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, of Winterbourne, in the Royal County of Berkshire in 1997.[5]

Baroness Nicholson visited Kazakhstan as Prime Minister's Trade Envoy on 28 April 2019. The 6-day visit was focused on expanding trade relations with the Central Asian country.[6]

European Parliament[edit]

Lady Nicholson became a member of the European Parliament in 1999 joining the Committee on Foreign Affairs[7] which she was Vice President of from 2004 to 2007. She was President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq and President of the Committee on Women's Rights of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.[8] Lady Nicholson was also a member of the subcommittee on Human Rights, the Delegation for relations with Iran and the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq Countries.[9] She was Rapporteur for Kashmir, and in 2007 her controversial report on Kashmir was passed by the European Parliament by a majority of 522 to 9. In 2006 Lady Nicholson was Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Yemen. She was a member of European Union Election Observation Missions to Palestine (2005), Azerbaijan (2005), Lebanon (2005), Afghanistan (2005), Armenia (2007) and Pakistan (2008). In January and December 2005 she was a member of the United Nations Election Observation Missions to Iraq.

She also generated controversy through her strong opposition to international adoptions, which she believed had become a market and subject to corruption. While the EP's Special Rapporteur for Romania's EU accession she and some others in the international[10] community criticized international adoptions. Due partially to her pressure, the Romanian government in 2005 implemented legislation that de facto banned international adoptions, in line with practices in some of the EU member states. The measure generated controversy, mainly in the US, Israel, France, Spain and Italy, particularly from prospective parents who had filed papers for adopting a Romanian child but whose efforts were halted by the ban. International and Romanian media also called attention to poor conditions in Romanian orphanages and hospitals where abandoned children remained for prolonged periods, while acknowledging some progress made in reforming child protection. In December 2005 and July 2006, the EP passed measures requesting Romania deal with outstanding pipeline cases, despite Romania having dismissed these formally through legislation after consultation with an Independent Panel of EU Experts on Family Law. Critics claimed the Independent Panel was stacked with opponents of international adoptions. The U.S. Congress also passed repeated measures and held hearings opposing the ban.

Lady Nicholson stood down from the European Parliament at the 2009 elections.

House of Lords[edit]

In 2009 Lady Nicholson returned to London and resumed her political work at the House of Lords. In February 2010 she founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Business Development in Iraq and the Regions and currently serves as its Chair.[citation needed] She is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Human Trafficking, chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Foreign Affairs and speaks regularly on health care and education in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and business development in Iraq and its wider neighbourhood.[11] She was appointed as Prime Minister's Trade Envoy for Iraq[12] on 30 January 2014.

She resigned the Liberal Democrat whip in July 2016, to sit as a non-affiliated member. However, on 10 September 2016 she announced she was re-joining the Conservative Party "with tremendous pleasure" and would sit on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords. Listing her reasons for rejoining the Tories, she highlighted Theresa May's education speech on 9 September as evidence that the prime minister "leads a party with a real commitment to delivering for the next generation and building a country that works for everyone".[2]

Other work[edit]

Lady Nicholson is the Executive Chairman of the AMAR Foundation which works to rebuild and improve the lives of disadvantaged communities in war-torn areas.

She is Executive Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council[13] an organisation which facilitates business, trade investment, human resources, training and transfer of technology and know-how into the Republic of Iraq. It seeks to bring together Iraqi, British and international companies and public sector bodies by giving them a joint platform and identifying their mutual interests and common goals and is aimed to be a powerful network of the most important Iraqi, British and international business organisations, enjoying high-level support from both Governments and the EU.

Lady Nicholson is also Executive Chairman of the Associatia Children's High Level Group – ACHLG. Nicholson also co-founded its English counterpart, the Children's High Level Group (now Lumos) with British novelist JK Rowling. Lady Nicholson is the co-chairman with the Prime Minister of Romania of the High Level Group for Romania's Children and the co-chairman with the Prime Minister of Moldova of the High Level Group for Moldovan Children.

Lady Nicholson is also a member of the American Bar Association's Middle East North Africa Council, the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organisations Prize Committee and Freedom House International Solidarity Committee. She is a board member of the Foundation for Dialogue Among Civilisations,[14] the American Islamic Congress, the Global Warming Policy Foundation[15] (a climate skeptic think tank funded primarily by multiple anonymous donors)[16] and a member of the Board of Advisors for the New York University Center for Dialogues, Islamic World.[17] She is Vice President of The Little Foundation, and is Honorary Advisor to the Prime Minister and Government of Iraq on Public Health and related issues.

On 9 May 1987, Nicholson married Sir Michael Harris Caine, with whom she had a foster son Amar Kanim, who was rescued from Iraq after surviving a napalm attack in March 1991.[18][19] She set up the Amar Foundation to support projects in Iraq.[20] She was widowed in 1999. She is President of the Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing, which was named after her late husband. She is also Vice President of the Man Booker Prize Foundation and a member of the Supervisory Board of the Booker Prize for Russian Fiction.[citation needed]

In 2017, Lady Nicholson received an honorary doctorate in International Leadership and Humanitarian Service from Brigham Young University in the United States for her charity and humanitarian work across the Middle East.[21][22]


  1. ^ "Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Lib Dems' Baroness Nicholson rejoins Conservatives". BBC News. 10 September 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Ambassador Erlan Idrissov meets with Baroness Nicholson, Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan". Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  4. ^ Beckett, Andy (31 December 1995). "profile: Emma Nicholson: Not her sort of party". Independent. London. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  5. ^ "No. 54942". The London Gazette. 10 November 1997. p. 12601.
  6. ^ May 2019, Zhanna Shayakhmetova in International on 16 (16 May 2019). "U.K., Kazakhstan set to deepen strong strategic partnership, says British Trade Envoy". The Astana Times. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  7. ^ "European Parliament Committees : Foreign Affairs". Europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Euromed". www.europarl.europa.eu.
  9. ^ "Directory | MEPs | European Parliament". Europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Hansard, House of Lords. "UK Parliament - Archives". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Baroness Nicholson appointed as new United Kingdom Trade Envoy to Iraq - News articles". GOV.UK. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  13. ^ "IBBC - Together We Build Iraq". webuildiraq.org.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Board of Trustees | The Global Warming Policy Foundation". GWPF. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Michael Hintze revealed as funder of Lord Lawson's climate thinktank". The Guardian. 27 March 2012.
  17. ^ "ISLAMUSWEST - My ISLAMUSWEST". www.islamuswest.org.
  18. ^ "The boy in the photo". BBC News. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  19. ^ Booth, Jenny. "Guest contributor". The Times. London, UK.
  20. ^ "AMAR Foundation". AMAR Foundation. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  21. ^ McKell, Kalena (28 April 2017). "BYU grads encouraged to 'be awful'". Daily Universe.
  22. ^ Prescott, Marianne. "Unexpected advice — 'Be awful,' BYU grads told". Deseret News.

External links[edit]

Media related to Emma Nicholson at Wikimedia Commons

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Mills
Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon
Succeeded by
John Burnett