Michael Cashman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Lord Cashman
Official portrait, 2022
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
28 October 2014
Life Peerage
Member of the European Parliament
for West Midlands
In office
10 June 1999 – 26 May 2014
Personal details
Born (1950-12-17) 17 December 1950 (age 73)
Limehouse, London, England
Political partyLabour
Other political
Non-affiliated (May 2019–January 2022a)
^ Cashman had left Labour and sat as a non-affiliated peer before returning to the party

Colin Michael Maurice Cashman, Baron Cashman, CBE (born 17 December 1950) is a British actor, dancer, politician, and LGBT rights activist.[1] A member of the Labour Party, he served as a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands from 1999 to 2014. He has been a member of the House of Lords since 2014.[2]


A former child actor, Cashman had a long career, principally on television in supporting roles. His first television appearance was in the 14th episode "The Tin God" of the ITC series Gideon's Way filmed in 1964 and aired in 1965. He appeared with the National Youth Theatre in Zigger Zagger at the Strand Theatre in the West End in March 1968. In 1980, Cashman was a regular in series two and three of ITV's The Sandbaggers as Sandbagger 2 (initially Sandbagger 3). He also played First Officer Bilton in the Doctor Who serial Time-Flight in March 1982.

Cashman had been in the business for more than 20 years when he landed the role of Colin Russell in the BBC's soap opera EastEnders in 1986. In 1987 the character had the first gay kiss in a British soap and, two years later, the first mouth-to-mouth kiss, watched by an estimated 17 million people.[3] He remained a regular character in the series until 1989. He also appeared at the National Theatre in Martin Sherman's play Bent with Ian McKellen, where his understudy was Christopher Eccleston.[4] It was announced on 25 August 2016 that Cashman would reprise his role as Colin Russell in EastEnders for two episodes in September.[5] Cashman briefly reprised the role again in 2022 for the funeral of Dot Branning (June Brown).[6]


Cashman is a founder of Stonewall,[7] an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, a Patron of The Food Chain, a London-based HIV charity and a patron of LGBT Labour.

In the European Parliament he was Labour spokesman on human rights.

A member of the Civil Liberties Committee, Cashman has been a rapporteur on several key initiatives including an initiative on funerals of those who die in third countries.

He is a trenchant critic of discrimination against minorities within the European Union. He has been leading a cross-party coalition to tackle the rise in homophobia throughout Europe. He has in the past supported the gay pride march in Warsaw, which he attended.[8] He is also the president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on gay and lesbian issues. Cashman is a member of the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. In 2014, he criticised McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Visa Inc. during a session of parliament in protest at their sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi, Russia, despite Vladimir Putin having recently introduced legislation against the LGBT community. Cashman cut up his Visa card during the session.[9]

In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Staffordshire for his human rights work.[10] That same year he was elected MEP of the Year for Justice and Fundamental Rights by his peers.[11]

Cashman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for public and political service.[12]

It was reported on 8 August 2014 Cashman was to be among 22 new life peers announced by the government.[13] On 23 September 2014 he was created a life peer taking the title Baron Cashman, of Limehouse in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets,[14] which is also his birthplace. On 23 September 2014, Cashman was appointed Labour's special envoy on LGBT issues worldwide.

In June 2015, Cashman announced his involvement and investment in SuitLink Ltd., a global LGBT and ally professional social network.[15][16]

In 2007, Cashman supported Alan Johnson for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. In 2010, he supported David Miliband for the leadership of the party. In 2015, Cashman supported Yvette Cooper for the leadership. He supported Sadiq Khan in his bid for Mayor of London.[17]

Cashman released his memoir One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square with Bloomsbury Publishing in February 2020.[18] It was shortlisted for the 2021 RSL Christopher Bland Prize.[19]

He resigned from the Labour Party on 22 May 2019 in opposition to Brexit, and offered his support to the Liberal Democrats.[20] He sat in the Lords as a non-affiliated peer, before returning to Labour on 11 January 2022.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Cashman registered a civil partnership with Paul Cottingham, his partner of over twenty years, on 11 March 2006. They were together a total of 31 years before Cottingham died. They were introduced in 1983 by Barbara Windsor.[22] A fellow actor and humanitarian activist, Cottingham also worked for the Labour Party as High Value fundraiser and for Britain in Europe, and became Cashman's researcher during his time in the European Parliament. In March 2011 he was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, angiosarcoma, and died on 23 October 2014 at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. He was cremated in a humanist service at the City of London Crematorium on 7 November 2014.[23][24]



  1. ^ "LGBT+ community must support trans people to end 'unforgivable' discrimination says actor Michael Cashman". itv.com. 24 August 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Karren Brady and Sir Stuart Rose among new life peers". BBC. 8 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Memorable LGBTQ moments in EastEnders history". BBC. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  4. ^ Whitney, Hilary (30 April 2011). "theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Christopher Eccleston". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Lord Cashman to reprise EastEnders role after 30 years". The Guardian. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  6. ^ Green, Alex (2 December 2022). "Lord Michael Cashman 'humbled' to return for EastEnders funeral of Dot Branning". Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  7. ^ Godfrey, Chris (27 March 2018). "Section 28 protesters 30 years on". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Fears of Poland's gay community". BBC News. 10 June 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ "European Parliament Member Michael Cashman Cuts His Visa Card To Protest Sochi". International Business Times. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  10. ^ "University Disclosure Log: The names of those people given honorary degrees by the University in the academic years of 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10". Staffordshire University.
  11. ^ "ILGA-Europe". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  12. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 7.
  13. ^ "Karren Brady and Sir Stuart Rose among new life peers". BBC News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  14. ^ "No. 61001". The London Gazette. 29 September 2014. p. 18838.
  15. ^ "Michael Cashman's Twitter Update". Twitter.
  16. ^ "SuitLink – LGBT and Ally Professional Social Network".
  17. ^ Patrick Wintour (11 September 2015). "Sadiq Khan elected as Labour's candidate for mayor of London". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  18. ^ Bloomsbury.com. "One of Them". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  19. ^ "RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021 – Shortlist announced". Royal Society of Literature. 17 May 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  20. ^ Rodger, James (22 May 2019). "Labour peer sensationally QUITS party - to vote for Lib Dems". birminghammail. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Lord Cashman: Parliamentary career". MPs and Lords. UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  22. ^ Paton, Maureen (26 September 1999). "Partners in politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Paul Cottingham, 'the love of Michael Cashman's life', dies - Gay Star News". 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Ed Miliband pays tribute to Paul Cottingham, activist and partner of Michael Cashman". 24 October 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
European Parliamentary representative on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party
2001 – 2012
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Cashman
Followed by