|Member of Parliament|
2 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
|Preceded by||Sir Colin Shepherd|
|Succeeded by||Jesse Norman[nb]|
Paul Stuart Keetch
21 May 1961
|Died||24 May 2017 (aged 56)|
|Political party||Liberal Democrats|
Claire Elizabeth Baker
(m. 1991; div. 2011)
|Alma mater||Hereford Sixth Form College|
|n.b. ^ for Hereford and South Herefordshire|
He went to Hereford High School for Boys (now Aylestone Business and Enterprise College), followed by Hereford Sixth Form College. Keetch joined the Liberal Party while still at school, and chaired the Hereford Young Liberals and the West Midlands Region Young Liberals, as well as being the election agent for the Liberals in Hereford in 1983. He was elected to Hereford City Council in 1983 at the age of 21, making him the then-youngest city councillor in the UK, and served two years before resigning to move to London. His first jobs were in banking and financial services, before moving to the water hygiene industry and Franklin Hodge self-assembly water tanks. He moved to London for Hodge in 1985, but soon left to become a self-employed public affairs consultant.
Keetch was selected as Lib Dem candidate for Hereford in 1994 and was elected to be the city's MP at the 1997 general election. He was a junior Liberal Democrat spokesman for Foreign Affairs from 1999–2001, a frontbench spokesman on Defence from October 1999 until the May 2005 general election, and a junior party Whip until 2010.
In July 2005, Keetch succeeded Sharon Bowles MEP as Chair of the Liberal International British Group. He also sat on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. He founded the Cider All-Party Parliamentary Group. He served for a year as an honorary lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for five years.
Keetch had comfortably captured his traditionally marginal seat by 6,648 votes when he gained it from the Conservatives in 1997, but his majority dropped to 968 votes when he was re-elected in 2001, and when he won a third term in 2005 it was by 962 votes. Keetch announced in December 2006 that he would step down at the 2010 general election. The new Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency was won by the Conservative Jesse Norman by 2,481 votes at the 2010 general election.
Expenses and rule breaches
In 2008, The Daily Telegraph stated that Keetch "never knowingly underspent", and it mocked his "expense-fuelled forays to John Lewis", including "such indispensable items as a cheese grater, three large bottle stoppers and a white pudding basin." During the 2009 United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, the Hereford Times noted that in the past year he had claimed £142,385, including £87,000 on staffing costs (part of which would have gone to his wife, who worked for him), and £23,351.74 in second home allowances (the maximum permitted at the time). Keetch missed 9 out of 10 parliamentary votes on MPs' expenses. The Daily Telegraph recorded that his "mortgage jumped from £145,000 to £300,000 when he sold a flat in Stockwell in London last year and moved around the corner. The new flat was furnished with a sofa-bed costing £690 and a wardrobe at £624."
In March 2010, a BBC investigation showed that Keetch had breached House of Commons rules relating to declaring outside interests. In 2005, he twice visited Gibraltar, firstly paid for by the Liberal Party of Gibraltar and secondly paid for by the Gibraltar government, yet when he asked two parliamentary questions and signed three Early Day Motions relating to Gibraltar, he failed to declare either of these interests. Similarly, he visited Korea in 2006 paid for by the government, but failed to declare this when he subsequently signed an Early Day Motion on Korea.
On 8 July 2007, he was taken seriously ill whilst travelling to the United States on a flight. The pilot turned the aeroplane back to London and he was admitted to London Chest Hospital. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with idiopathic ventricular fibrillation and fitted an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
On 13 November 2009, The Sun printed front-page photos of the married MP kissing the estranged wife of SAS soldier and author Cameron Spence, with the pair staying overnight in Keetch's flat and subsequently emerging at 10:30am the next day, 11 November. Keetch's first wife divorced him just over a year later.
A colleague, Mark Pursey, noted that "by 2016 it was abundantly clear that [Keetch] was not a well man: he had fallen ill on a flight to Washington nearly ten years previously with heart problems; his personal affairs – into which he would occasionally, perhaps unintentionally, share glimpses – were evidently not as optimal as he would have liked."
After he stood down from parliament in 2010, Keetch resumed work as a lobbyist, initially working alone. In 2011 he became a founding partner in Wellington Street Partners with retired Conservative MP Sir Sydney Chapman and expelled Labour MP Phil Woolas. Keetch resigned from the partnership in 2013 and resumed independent practice.
On 7 March 2016, Keetch announced he would be campaigning to leave the European Union in the 23 June EU referendum. He fronted the "Liberal Leave" organisation and was the only prominent Liberal Democrat to endorse a Leave vote.
After a short illness, Keetch died on 24 May 2017, at the age of 56.
- Tudor Griffiths, "Paul Keetch", in Duncan Brack (ed.), Dictionary of Liberal Biography (Politico's, London,1998), pp.209–10
- "Our founders; Paul Keetch". Wellington Street Partners. Retrieved 26 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
- Official site – Keetch to stand down at the next election[permanent dead link] retrieved 24 December 2006
- "Hereford &Herefordshire South results, 2010 general election". BBC News. May 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Pierce, Andrew (15 March 2008). "MPs never knowingly underspent". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "MP expenses: Who employs family members". Daily Telegraph. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Tanner, Bill (16 June 2009). "Paul Keetch claims more than £140,000 in expenses". Hereford Times. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- PublicWhip.org.uk – Paul Keetch compared to "Transparency of Parliament"
- "MPs' expenses: Full list of Lib Dem MPs investigated by the Telegraph". Daily Telegraph. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "Paul Keetch MP: Foreign trips and rule breaches". BBC News. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "MP Paul Keetch's 'affair' with SAS officer's wife". The Telegraph. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Langdon, Julia (30 May 2017). "Paul Keetch obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- Staff writer (10 July 2007). "MP still recovering in hospital". BBC News Online. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
- Morris, Ian (23 July 2007). "Paul Keetch returns home to Hereford". Hereford Times Internet Edition. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
- "MP Paul Keetch's 'affair' with SAS author's wife". The Daily Telegraph. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- Mark, Pursey (26 May 2017). "A tribute to Paul Keetch: Liberal Parliamentarian and Brexit campaigner". Brexit Central. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- , Wellington Street Partners website accessed 19 July 2012.
- Paul Keetch (7 March 2016). "Think that if you are liberal you should vote to stay in the EU? Think again". The Independent. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Death of former Hereford MP Paul Keetch". Ross Gazette. Retrieved 25 May 2017.