Michael Grylls

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Michael Grylls
Member of Parliament
for North West Surrey
In office
28 February 1974 – 2 May 1997
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Member of Parliament
for Chertsey
In office
18 June 1970 – 28 February 1974
Preceded byLionel Heald
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1934-02-21)21 February 1934
Folkestone, Kent, England
Died7 February 2001(2001-02-07) (aged 66)
Political partyConservative
Sarah Ford (m. 1965)
Children2; including Bear Grylls
Alma materRoyal Naval College, Dartmouth
University of Madrid
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/serviceRoyal Marines

Sir William Michael John Grylls (21 February 1934 – 7 February 2001), known as Michael Grylls, was a British Conservative politician. He was implicated in the cash-for-questions affair, a political scandal of the 1990s. He was the father of adventurer and Chief Scout Bear Grylls.

Education and early career[edit]

The son of William Edward Harvey Grylls OBE, of Winterbourne Zelston House, Blandford, Dorset, a Brigadier in the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars of a family that can be traced back to 17th century Cornwall, he was educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. His eyesight was not good enough for the Navy, so he joined the Royal Marines, and saw active service, leaving in 1955, and studying Spanish at the University of Madrid.[1]

He turned his hand to business, setting up a wine importing firm called the 'Costa Brava Company'. His description of some of his products as "Spanish champagne" provoked the ire of both the makers of genuine champagne and its London importers; he was unsuccessfully prosecuted for trading under a false description, but they won a civil action against him for "passing off", i.e. misrepresenting his goods by using someone else's trademark.[1]

From 1959 he served as a councillor on St. Pancras Borough Council, and was elected to the Greater London Council for the Cities of London and Westminster from 1967-70.


Grylls married Sarah (Sally) Smiles Justice Ford, the daughter of Patricia Ford, Lady Fisher, briefly an Ulster Unionist MP, and cricketer Neville Montagu Ford. Sally is the stepdaughter of Conservative MP Nigel Fisher and the stepsister of Labour MP Mark Fisher. The Gryllses have one daughter, Lara Sarah Grylls, and one son, the adventurer and Chief Scout Edward Michael "Bear" Grylls, who is most recognised as the host of Born Survivor.

Career as Member of Parliament[edit]

Grylls was an unsuccessful candidate in the Fulham constituency in both the 1964 and 1966 general elections. At the 1970 general election, he was returned to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Chertsey. His seat was abolished in boundary changes, but he was returned to Parliament for the new North West Surrey constituency in the February 1974 general election. He represented this constituency until his retirement at the 1997 election.

Andrew Roth, author of Parliamentary Profiles, in assessing Grylls's ideology, accused him of "opportunistic deviations", for example favouring little state interference with business, but supporting public funds for British Aerospace, which was a large employer in his constituency.[2]

He was knighted in 1992.[3]

Cash for questions[edit]

For some years Grylls had acted as a consultant to the lobbying company run by Ian Greer at the heart of the Cash-for-Questions inquiry. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Gordon Downey, stated that Grylls had "seriously misled" the select committee on members' interests in 1990 (replaced in 1995 by the Standards and Privileges Committee) by understating the number of payments he had received for introducing clients to ministers[4] and Grylls' conduct, said Sir Gordon, had fallen "below the standards the House is entitled to expect of its members".[2][5][6]

The Committee concluded that Grylls had "received payments from Mr Greer (though not in cash) which were neither introduction commissions nor fees associated with the Unitary Tax Campaign. It is not possible to conclude that these payments originated from Mr Al Fayed, although Sir Michael actively participated in the Greer lobbying operation. Sir Michael deliberately misled the Select Committee on Members' Interests in 1990 by seriously understating the number of commission payments he had received; and by omitting to inform them of other fees received from Mr Greer. Sir Michael persistently failed to declare his interests in dealings with Ministers and officials over the House of Fraser. Sir Michael's action in taking a commission payment for introducing a constituent to Mr Greer was unacceptable. There is insufficient evidence to show that Sir Michael solicited business for Mr Greer in expectation of commission payments."[6]


Grylls was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron until his death in 2001; his widow remains an honorary member. In Piers Morgan's Life Stories, Bear Grylls said that his father had a pace-maker fitted but suddenly died of a heart attack two days later while recovering at home.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Sir Michael Grylls". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. 13 February 2001. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b Roth, Andrew (24 February 2001). "Obituary: Sir Michael Grylls". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  3. ^ "No. 52935". The London Gazette. 29 May 1992. p. 9177.
  4. ^ "Cash For Questions - The Downey Report". BBC Politics 97. 1997. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. ^ "The sleaze report: Five men who fell below the standards that Parliament demands from an MP". The Independent. London: INM. 4 July 1997. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Select Committee on Standards and Privileges: Seventh Report". House of Commons. 1 August 1997. Retrieved 8 July 2015.


  • Times Guide to the House of Commons, Times Newspapers Limited, 1992 edition.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Lionel Heald
Member of Parliament for Chertsey
1970Feb 1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for North West Surrey
Feb 19741997
Constituency abolished