Rehman Chishti

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Rehman Chishti
Official portrait of Rehman Chishti crop 2.jpg
Rehman Chishti MP
Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Communities[1]
Assumed office
8 January 2018
Leader Theresa May
Chairman Brandon Lewis
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General for England and Wales [2]
In office
5 May 2015 – 18 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded by Heather Wheeler
Parliamentary Private Secretary to Minister of State for Schools
In office
Prime Minister David Cameron
Succeeded by Stephen Metcalfe [2]
Member of Parliament
for Gillingham and Rainham
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Paul Clark
Majority 9,430 (19.3%)
Medway Council Councillor for Rainham Central
Assumed office
3 May 2007
Personal details
Born (1978-10-04) 4 October 1978 (age 39)
Muzaffarabad, Pakistan
Nationality British
Political party Labour (before 2007)
Conservative (2007 onwards)
Alma mater Aberystwyth University
Committees Justice Select Committee (2013–), Joint Committee on Human Rights (2010–2013)

Atta-Ur-Rehman Chishti[3] (born 4 October 1978[4]) is a British Conservative politician who was elected MP for Gillingham and Rainham in the 2010 general election.[4][5] He is currently the Vice Chair of the Conservative Party for Communities, appointed in the 2018 cabinet reshuffle.

Early life and career[edit]

Chishti was born in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, on 4 October 1978. His father Abdul Rehman Chishti had been appointed Federal Adviser on religious affairs to the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir in 1976 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan. He left Pakistan in 1978 to take up a post as an Imam in the UK, soon after Bhutto was overthrown by a military coup by General Zia-ul-Haq, who later executed Bhutto. Rehman Chishti did not see his father for the first six years of his life. He along with his mother and elder sister joined his father in 1984 in the UK at the age of six, and since then has lived in Gillingham and Rainham.[6]

Chishti attended Richmond Infant School (now Burnt Oak Primary school), Napier Primary School, Fort Luton High School for Boys (now Victory Academy), Rainham Mark Grammar School Sixth Form, and Chatham Grammar School for Girls (mixed boys and girls sixth form).[7] He was Head Boy at Fort Luton High School, and captain of the school cricket team. He also captained Hempstead Colts Cricket Club in Gillingham, in which he took his best bowling figures of 5 wickets for 7 runs against Lordswood Colts, which led him to play for Medway District and Kent Schools in the Pawson trophy. He also played football with Royal Princes Park youth team where he was given the award for player of the year.[8]

Chishti read law at University of Wales Aberystwyth,[9] followed by Inns of Court School of Law where he did his Barristers vocational course. He had to supplement his studies by working at Tesco main store in Gillingham, and the Link Mobile phone shop in Hempstead Valley shopping centre in Gillingham.

Chishti was called to the Bar of England and Wales by Lincoln's Inn in 2001. He undertook pupillage at Goldsmith Chambers and was taken on as a tenant. Chishti prosecuted and defended cases in the Magistrates' and Crown courts. He has appeared in the Court of Appeal: R v R [2007] EWCA Crim 3312; Attorney General's Reference (No. 20 of 2005), R v May [2005] All ER (D) 359 (Jun). He is an Honorary Door Tenant at Red Lion Chambers.[10][11]

Political career[edit]

Chishti accompanying Benazir Bhutto to a meeting at the Foreign Office in 2005 with the then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Also in attendance is Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the former High Commissioner of Pakistan.

Adviser to Benazir Bhutto[edit]

Chishti served as a Political Adviser from 1999–2007 to Benazir Bhutto, after she had ceased being the Prime Minister of Pakistan.[6] In September 2004 in a meeting in Islamabad with Mark Lyall Grant, the then High Commissioner to Pakistan, Chishti, acting on behalf of Benazir Bhutto, committed Bhutto to talks with the Government of Pakistan for the transition to Democracy with the United Kingdom acting as the facilitators. Chishti followed this up by attending every meeting Bhutto had with British diplomats, both in Dubai and London, including the British Foreign Office in London accompanying Ms Bhutto and acting on her behalf. This included meetings with the then British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in 2005, and David Miliband in 2007. In 2001, in a note to Rehman Chishti in her biography, she described him as her most brilliant assistant.

Parliamentary candidate and councillor[edit]

At the 2005 General Election, Chishti stood as the Labour Party candidate for the Horsham constituency.[12] He later joined the Conservative Party, and was selected as the candidate for the marginal seat of Gillingham and Rainham, whose predecessor seat of Gillingham had been held by Labour by less than 300 votes in 2005. On 28 August 2007, Benazir Bhutto visited the constituency for a dinner in support of Chishti's campaign, where she told the audience, "Rehman being the Parliamentary candidate for Gillingham is my loss and Gillingham's gain".[13]

Chishti represented the Gillingham North Ward from 2003–2007 and the Rainham Central Ward since 2007 on Medway Council.[14] He was appointed to the Medway Council's Cabinet in 2007 as the Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, becoming the youngest Cabinet Member in Medway's history.[15] He also served as an Adviser to Francis Maude (against whom Chishti had stood in Horsham in 2005) on diversity when Maude was Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2006.[16]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Chishti was elected Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham in 2010 at the age of 31. The New Statesman listed Chishti as among the 20 MPs under 40 who are the best of their generation, and who have the potential to be the next Prime Minister.[17] The Telegraph newspaper described him as a rising star of the party.[18] In 2011, Chishti was listed by the BBC as one of the most frequent speakers in Parliament from the intake of 2010.[19]

In 2013, Chishti was named parliamentarian of the year by the road safety charity Brake for his work in Parliament championing road safety issues,[20] including persuading the government to adopt his private members bill to increase the sentence for those who cause death by driving, when then the motorist had been banned from driving at the time of the offence. The government agreed to increase the maximum custodial sentence to 10 years from the previous two.[21]

Chishti has campaigned for the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. In October 2014, Chishti authored a letter, signed by 54 MPs from across Parliament, sent to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, and the Chief Justice, Nasir-ul-Mulk, calling for an urgent review of her case.[22]

In June 2015, Rehman authored letters signed by more than 120 MPs to the Prime Minister and to the BBC asking them to refer to the so-called "Islamic State", ISIS/ISIL as "Daesh", a phrase adopted by many countries around the World, including France and Turkey, an issue which made front-page news.[23][24] In December 2015, the Prime Minister announced in Parliament that, after the strong representations made by Chishti, the Government would be officially using the terminology Daesh, rather than ISIL.[25]

Chishti has campaigned to improve care for people with mental health problems and has introduced two Private Members Bills in Parliament. In October 2015 he authored a letter, signed by 67 MPs, sent to the Prime Minister asking the Government to support these.[26]

Chishti was a Member of the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons, having previously been a Member of the Joint Committee of the Human Rights Committee.[27] He is passionate about sports and has served as the parliamentary fellow for Sport England,[28] and is currently the parliamentary fellow for the Football Association.[29]

In 2015, Chishti was awarded the Conservative Party People's Choice MP of the Year Award from the Patchwork Foundation for his community engagement work and was named in second place by readers of the ConservativeHome blog in their Parliamentarian of the Year 2015.[30]

Chishti was awarded the Grassroots Diplomat Initiative "Policy Driver Award" (MP of the Year 2015). Chishti was awarded the Asian Voice political and public life awards for campaigning MP of the Year (2015). Chishti was listed as the highest contributing Back Bench MP (BBC listing published 2016).

In July 2014, he was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Education. In May 2015, he took a similar position with Jeremy Wright, the Attorney General.

Chishti was a regular Sky News paper reviewer from 2010 to 2014.

European Union referendum[edit]

For the 2016 referendum on Britain's membership to the European Union, Chisti remained "undecided" until late in the campaign leading up to it,[31] and then, a few weeks before it, declared he "will be voting to leave the EU in the...referendum."[32]


In March 2016, Chishti became an adviser to the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, a role for which he was paid £200 an hour.[33] The King Faisal Centre is a Saudi Arabian think-tank, named after the Saudi King Faisal. In recent years the organisation has aimed to have more of an international presence and to "affect policy based on public research".[34] The Liberal Democrats criticised him for advancing Saudi Arabia's interests through making speeches in Parliament while at the same time being on the pay-roll of a Saudi think-tank.[35]

The parliamentary standards commissioner said in June 2016 that it would not investigate the complaint made by the Liberal Democrat MP.[36]

See also[edit]

List of British Pakistanis


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "List of Parliamentary Private Secretaries: a reply from No.10 - Who Runs Britain?". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9123. 
  4. ^ a b "Rehman Chishti MP". Democracy Live. BBC News. 5 June 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "Rehman Chishti – MP for Gillingham and Rainham". Rehman Chishti. 
  6. ^ a b Macrory, Sam (11 October 2010). "The rebirth of Rehman". Politics Home. 
  7. ^ "About Rehman". Rehman Chishti. 
  8. ^ "Rehman Chishti MP: How the Olympics legacy could help to tackle obesity and boost health". Conservative Home. 7 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Aberystwyth at Westminster". Aberystwyth University. 19 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Honorary Door Tenants". 18 Red Lion Court. Red Lion Chambers. 
  11. ^ "Rehman Chishti MP". 18 Red Lion Court. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Election 2005 Result: Horsham". BBC News. 6 May 2005. 
  13. ^ Walters, Simon (11 November 2007). "The Tory boy plotting Benazir's "revolution"... from Gillingham". Daily Mail. 
  14. ^ "Councillor Rehman Chishti". Medway Council. 
  15. ^ "Cllr Chishti goes walkabout in Chatham: Media invite". Medway Council. 22 May 2007. 
  16. ^ "Ex-Labour man defects to Tories". BBC News. 15 March 2006. 
  17. ^ "20 under 40: meet parliament's rising stars". New Statesman. 23 September 2011. 
  18. ^ Bingham, John (16 December 2012). "MPs and Peers launch gay marriage rebellion saying Cameron has 'no mandate". The Telegraph. 
  19. ^ Stamp, Gavin (11 July 2011). "MPs' Class of 2010: End of term report". BBC News. 
  20. ^ "Local MP wins prestigious award for outstanding contribution to road safety". Brake. 15 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Justice for victims of banned drivers". Ministry of Justice. 6 May 2014. 
  22. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 09 July 2015 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  23. ^ Jones, Callum; Pitel, Laura (2 July 2015). "BBC: we must be fair with Islamic State". The Times. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  24. ^ Harley, Nicola (2 July 2015). "BBC decides dropping 'Islamic State' would be unfair to terror group". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  25. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 02 Dec 2015 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  26. ^ "67 MPs sign letter supporting Mental Health Bills". Rehman Chishti MP. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  27. ^ "Rehman Chishti MP". UK Parliament. 
  28. ^ "England's MPs discover about the Olympic and Paralympic legacy in their area". Sport England. 
  29. ^ "The FA welcomes Rehman Chishti MP to its fellowship scheme". Rehman Chishti. 12 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "David Davis is ConHome readers' Parliamentarian of the Year - Conservative Home". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  31. ^ "Kent MPs on whether they're voting to stay or leave the European Union" by Paul Francis, KentOnLine, 22 February 2016
  32. ^ Rehman's decision on EU Referendum, statement by Chishti on his personal website, 25 May 2016
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Saudi Arabia's former spymaster aims to give centre influence - The National". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  35. ^ "Tory MP faces investigation over links with Saudi think-tank". 9 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  36. ^ "Tory MP Rehman Chishti will not be investigated over his links to Saudi Arabian think-tank". 9 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Paul Clark
Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham