Martha Lane Fox

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The Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho

Martha & Robin Lane-Fox (Martha cropped).jpg
Lane Fox in 2013
Chancellor of the Open University
Assumed office
12 March 2014
Preceded byThe Lord Puttnam
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
26 March 2013
Life Peerage
Personal details
Martha Lane Fox

(1973-02-10) 10 February 1973 (age 47)
London, UK
Political partyCrossbencher (N/A)
FatherRobin Lane Fox
EducationWestminster School
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
OccupationEntrepreneur, Life Peeress

Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, CBE[1][nb 1] (born 10 February 1973) is a British businesswoman, philanthropist and public servant. She co-founded Last Minute during the dotcom boom of the early 2000s and has subsequently served on public service digital projects. She sits on the boards of Twitter, Donmar Warehouse and Chanel, as well as being a trustee of The Queens Commonwealth Trust. She previously served on the board of Channel 4.[3]

She entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member,[4] and was appointed Chancellor of the Open University on 12 March 2014.[5] In November 2019, Lane Fox was named as the most influential woman in Britain's digital sector from the past quarter of a century.[6].

Early life[edit]

Born in London, Lane Fox is the daughter of academic and gardening writer Robin Lane Fox,[7] the scion of an English landed gentry family seated at Bramham Park. She was educated at Oxford High School, an all-girls independent school in Oxford, and at Westminster School, an all-boys public school in London with a mixed-sex sixth form. She read ancient and modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, and graduated with a BA degree, advancing MA.[8]


Lane Fox showed interest in acting and prison governorship but instead joined information technology and media consulting firm Spectrum,[citation needed] where she met Brent Hoberman. In 1998, Lane Fox and Hoberman founded Last Minute, an online travel and gift business that generated significant publicity, floating at the peak of the dot-com bubble.[8] She stepped down as managing director in 2003. Meanwhile, the company survived the dot-com crash to be bought out by Sabre Holdings in 2005 for £577m.[8][9]

Lady Lane-Fox with her father Robin Lane Fox, 2013

Following her departure from Last Minute, Lane Fox was tapped to take over day-to-day operations at Selfridges but was involved in an auto accident before she could assume that role.[10] At the suggestion of advertising executive Julian Douglas, Fox teamed up with Nick Thistleton to launch karaoke company Lucky Voice, which owns seven bars, including a club in Soho and revolutionised the karaoke industry.[8] In 2007, Lane Fox joined the board of Marks & Spencer.[8]

From 2009 to 2013 she was Digital Champion for the UK and helped to create the Government Digital Service – this team launched, and was tasked with spearheading a two-year campaign to improve computer literacy.[11][12][13][14][15] The following year she was assigned to establish the Digital Public Services Unit within the Cabinet Office. [16] and invited to sit on the Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Board.[17] The following month Lane Fox was honoured by David Cameron for her "Manifesto for a Networked Nation", a challenge to increase British internet engagement.[citation needed] She resigned from her position as Digital Champion in late 2013.[18]

She entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member.[4] In her maiden speech, she addressed the need for digital literacy in all sectors of the economy.[19] That same year the Open University appointed her Chancellor.[20] In the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, Lane Fox signed an open letter opposing Scottish independence.[21]

In 2017, Lane Fox was appointed a member of the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy.[citation needed] In 2018 she was appointed Non Executive Director of Chanel as well as Donmar Warehouse and a Trustee of the Queens Commonwealth Trust.[citation needed] Lane Fox continues to be a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed and Just for Kids Law.[citation needed] She joined the board of social network Twitter in June 2016.[22]

Charity work[edit]

Lane Fox is an advocate for such causes as human rights, women's rights, and social justice. In 2007 she founded Antigone,[23] a grant-making trust to support charities based in the United Kingdom. She is a patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity notable for its involvement in the release of UK resident Binyam Mohammed from Guantanamo Bay,[8] and Camfed, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty, HIV, and AIDS in rural Africa through an emphasis on education of young women.[24] She is also patron of the charity Just for Kids Law, which supports children and young people in London, as well as fighting for wider reform on behalf of young people across the UK.[25]

When telecommunications company Orange withdrew its longstanding support for the Orange Prize, Lane Fox was one of several benefactors, along with Cherie Blair and Joanna Trollope, who offered to sustain the contest until another major sponsor could be found.[26]

Honours and awards[edit]

Lane Fox was appointed Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for "services to the digital economy and charity".[27] In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[28] In the same month it was announced that she was to be created a life peer to sit as a crossbencher in the House of Lords.[29]

On 25 March 2013, she was created a Life Peer as Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, of Soho in the City of Westminster,[30] and was introduced in the House of Lords the next day.[1] On 29 October 2015, Lane Fox was ranked 15th on the Richtopia list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs.[31][32] In February 2016, Lane Fox was elected a Distinguished Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, after being nominated by The Duke of Kent.[33][nb 2]

In November 2019, Lane Fox was named by media and marketing publication The Drum, in association with the Futures Network, Innovate Her and WACL, as the most influential woman in Britain's digital sector from the past quarter of a century.[6]


Coat of arms of Martha Lane Fox
Coat of Arms of Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, CBE.svg
Style: The Lady Lane-Fox of Soho
Shield: displayed on a lozenge
Coronet of a British Baron.svg Coronet of a Baroness
Not applicable
Quarterly: 1st and 4th Ermine a Chevron between three Foxes' Heads erased Gules (Fox); 2nd and 3rd Argent a Lion rampant Gules with a Bordure Sable and on a Canton Azure a Harp and Crown Or (Lane).
"Faire sans dire"
The Order of the British Empire circlet.

Personal life[edit]

Lane-Fox lives in Marylebone, London, with her partner Chris Gorell Barnes.[34][35] Their identical twin sons, Milo and Felix, were born in 2016.[36] In May 2004 she was severely injured in a car accident in the tourist resort of Essaouira in Morocco and was flown to England for treatment at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and later Wellington Hospital in London. She was discharged from hospital in December 2005.[8][37]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Her title is hyphenated, whereas her surname is not.[2]
  2. ^ Burke's Peerage & Baronetage: LANE-FOX OF SOHO, LP "Arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, ermine a chevron between three foxes' heads erased gules (for FOX); 2nd and 3rd, argent a lion rampant gules within a bordure sable on a canton azure a harp and crown or (for LANE). Motto: Faire sans dire (Actions not words). Creation: Baroness (Life Peer, United Kingdom) 25 March 2013. MARTHA LANE FOX, BARONESS LANE-FOX, created a Life Peer as Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, in the City of Westminster 2013, CBE (2013) (The Rt Hon The Baroness Lane-Fox CBE, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW), founder and Chairwoman of 2015–, co-founder of (MD 2000–03), Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer plc 2007–16, Director of Twitter Inc 2016–, Chancellor of The Open University 2014–, Trustee of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust 2018–, born at London 10 February 1973, educated at Oxford High School, Westminster School, and Magdalen College Oxford (MA), DFBCS (2016). Lineage of LANE-FOX: (see BLG 1965 LANE-FOX of Bramham Park)"


  1. ^ a b "Introduction of Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho and Lord Berkeley of Knighton". UK Parliament. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox to get peerage". BBC News. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  3. ^ Allan Leighton (22 September 2011). Tough Calls: Making the right decisions in challenging times. Random House. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-4464-7304-7.
  4. ^ a b "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox joins House of Lords". BBC News. 26 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Martha Lane Fox appointed as Chancellor of The Open University". 12 March 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Martha Lane Fox named most influential woman in digital over the last 25 years". The Drum. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Emeritus, Honorary and Wykeham Fellows | New College". Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Jonathan Prynn (22 May 2007). "22 May 2007, Martha Lane Fox joins M&S". Evening Standard, "This is Money". Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  9. ^ Pesola, Maija (11 May 2005). "Sabre agrees to buy Lastminute for £577m". Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  10. ^ King, Emily (2012). "Martha The internet boom star turned digital activist: Martha Lane Fox". The Gentlewoman. Retrieved 30 March 2015.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  11. ^ "About us". Race Online 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  12. ^ "article on Digital Britain". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  13. ^ Brown, Maggie (16 July 2009). "Martha Lane Fox – what she'll do as the UK's digital inclusion champion". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  14. ^ "UK digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, wants to get everyone of working age online by 2012". BBC News. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  15. ^ "UK | Magazine | The internet's conscientious objectors". BBC News. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  16. ^ Thomson, Rebecca (22 March 2010). "Gordon Brown turns his focus to digital economy". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Martha Lane Fox appointed UK Digital Champion". Inside Government. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  18. ^ Nguyen, Anh (29 November 2013). "UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox quits". Computerworld UK. IDG Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  19. ^ Lane Fox, Martha. "h Anniversary of the World Wide Web". Daily Hansard. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  20. ^ Nguyen, Anh. "Open University Appoints Martha Lane Fox as Chancellor". ComputerWorld UK. IDG Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Martha Lane Fox to join Twitter board - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Antigone". Antigone. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  24. ^ Camfed on BBC Radio 4 this Christmas Day Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine at Camfed
  25. ^ "Just For Kids Law | Martha Lane Fox". Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  26. ^ Armitstead, Claire (8 October 2012). "Orange prize saved by private donors after organisers fail to find sponsor". The Guardian. London.
  27. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 7.
  28. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Woman's Hour - The Power List 2013". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  29. ^ "House of Lords, Official Website - New peers announced". Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  30. ^ "No. 60461". The London Gazette. 27 March 2013. p. 6071.
  31. ^ "Influential Brits combine both fame & fortune". Business Matters. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  32. ^ "British Entrepreneurs Top 100: From Lord Sugar to Victoria Beckham, These Are the Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK". Richtopia. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  33. ^ "Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho awarded BCS Distinguished Fellowships | News releases | Press Office | Policy and media | BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  34. ^ Ashton, James (19 July 2009). "Martha Lane Fox back". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  35. ^ King 2012.
  36. ^ Bodkin, Henry (5 June 2016). " founder Martha Lane Fox becomes mother 12 years after devastating car crash". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  37. ^ Simon Brooke (4 July 2005). "Lane Fox's new venture".