Bob Marshall-Andrews

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Bob Marshall-Andrews
MedwayCLPBob and Big Ben.JPG
Member of Parliament
for Medway
In office
2 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Peggy Fenner
Succeeded by Mark Reckless
(Rochester and Strood)
Personal details
Born (1944-04-10) 10 April 1944 (age 72)
Willesden, London
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Gill Marshall-Andrews
Children Laura, Tom
Alma mater University of Bristol
Occupation Politician
Profession Barrister

Robert Graham Marshall-Andrews QC (born 10 April 1944) is a British Labour Party politician and barrister, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Medway from 1997 to 2010. He is a published novelist and author.

Early life and legal career[edit]

Marshall-Andrews attended Mill Hill School before attending Bristol University where he read Law. Barrister (called 1970), Crown Court Recorder (1982), Queen's Counsel (1987), Bencher, Gray's Inn (1996). He has prosecuted and defended most forms of serious crime and serious criminals, and specialises in commercial fraud. He is particularly respected as a jury as described in Chambers Legal Directory "Superb at commanding the attention of the jury"... "is well prepared and proves brilliant in presentation." He is a member of the Criminal Bar Association and has been called to the Hong Kong Bar where he has been retained to prosecute serious cases. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Bristol 2015.[1]

Political career[edit]

Marshall-Andrews joined the Labour Party in 1971 and contested the constituency of Richmond, Surrey in October 1974.[2] He was asked to stand for the Medway Constituency in 1992 which he lost to the incumbent Conservative, Dame Peggy Fenner. He is a Member of Association of Labour Lawyers, Greenpeace, and the Woodland Trust.

Marshall-Andrews entered Parliament in the 1997 general election. He is perceived as being on the libertarian-left wing of the Labour Party, and was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, but unlike other members of this group is not a trade-unionist by background. He was successfully re-elected in 2001, tackling the immigration issue head-on and telling a voter: "The difference between you and me is that you are a racist and I am not. [… ] And under no circumstances are you allowed to vote for me. You will not vote for me!"[3]

Despite his leftist position, however, he nominated Gordon Brown (rather than John McDonnell) for the Labour Party leadership and Peter Hain as deputy leader in 2007. After a period of bedding down as a new MP, where he aided in the drafting of the banning of handguns, he became an irritant to the government front bench. He rebelled against the government on multiple occasions (20 of those rebellions being in the 2005 parliament), mainly on issues relating to civil liberty. In particular he successfully opposed proposals to restrict the right to jury trial and to introduce 90 days executive detention without trial. He was in the vanguard of opposition to the Iraq War. He was often mentioned as a candidate for backbencher of the year. He is widely respected in the Westminster media circuit and appeared regularly on the satirical programme "Have I Got News for You"[citation needed]

During the night of the 2005 general election, he appeared on national television commenting on his predicted defeat before it had been officially declared, as the only good news Tony Blair would get that night, and launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister. But he managed to hold on to the seat, with a narrow majority of 213 votes.

His penchant for rebellion, combined with his friendliness towards many Conservative MPs, led him to become unpopular within parts of his own party. According to The Times, senior Labour MPs demanded that the whip be withdrawn from him as an example to the 49 Labour MPs who rebelled against the government's plans to detain terror suspects for 90 days.[4]

On 15 June 2008, with former Labour Cabinet Minister Tony Benn, Marshall-Andrews again rebelled in his support for Conservative MP David Davis' campaign to step down as an MP and force a by-election in his constituency over the bill for a maximum 42-day detention without charge for arrested suspects. Such an action would normally be against party rules, although he believed his withdrawal from the Labour Party whip was improbable because the party was unlikely to put up a candidate against Davis in the by-election. He felt through his action that "the voice of a substantial part of the Labour party may be heard"[5] over a measure which gained strong resistance among Labour MPs and supporters.

On 17 July 2007, he said he would stand down as a Labour MP at the next election.[6]


During a break in the Terror Bill debate on 9 November 2005, Marshall-Andrews was seen talking to Conservative MPs Andrew Mitchell, Greg Knight and Damian Green in the Commons lobby. Labour MP Barry Sheerman remonstrated with him. Fellow Labour MP Jim Dowd intervened and at one stage grabbed Marshall-Andrews by the lapels. Dowd and several observers[7] believed they heard him saying of Dowd, "Here's another faggot".[8] The near-scuffle was broken up by government whip Tom Watson, but was widely reported. Marshall-Andrews subsequently insisted that he had actually shouted "faccio", an Italian word meaning a menial assistant, from which the public school slang 'fag' is thought to derive. The incident was mentioned by Marshall-Andrews on the satirical news quiz Have I Got News for You.

On 31 October 2006, Marshall-Andrews was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.[9]

In December 2008, Marshall-Andrews became the first Labour MP to publicly call for the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin over the arrest of Damian Green.[10]

As of 2009, Marshall-Andrews has claimed £118,000 for expenses at his second home.[11]

Social views and outside interests[edit]

He is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. He is also Founder and Trustee of the George Adamson Wildlife Trust, currently operating in Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania. Trustee and Chair of Development Committee, Geffrye Museum, London. Chair of Governors, Grey Court School 1987–1994.

He is also a novelist, having written Palace of Wisdom (published by Hamish Hamilton and Penguin in 1989, also published in the USA, France and a best-seller in Germany) and A Man Without Guilt (published by Methuen in 2002). 'Camille and the lost Diaries of Samuel Pepys' published by Whitefox 2016. His Political memoir 'Off Message' was published by Profile in 2011. He has written regular articles in the national newspapers (The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times) and periodicals (New Statesman, House Magazine, Tribune).


He and his wife own "Malator", an innovative grass-roofed house, known locally as the "Teletubby house", in Druidston, Pembrokeshire.[12][13]


  • Bob Marshall-Andrews (1989). Palace of Wisdom. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0525248101. 
  • Bob Marshall-Andrews (2012). Off Message. Profile Books. ISBN 978-1846684425. 
  • Bob Marshall-Andrews (2016). Camille: And the Lost Diaries of Samuel Pepys. ISBN 978-1911195122


  1. ^ Bob Marshall-Andrews QC, ePolitix
  2. ^ UK General Election results October 1974
  3. ^ Hoggart, Simon (21 May 2001). "Come on, then! Vote for me if you think you're hard enough". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Webster, Philip (12 November 2005). "Chief Whip gets ready to punish dissenters". The Times. London. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  5. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (15 June 2008). "Labour MP backs Davis's challenge". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 June 2008. 
  6. ^ "Blair critic to stand down as MP". BBC News. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 13 September 2007. 
  7. ^ Isabel Oakeshott, "MPs in Terror Law Punch-up", Evening Standard, 9 November 2005, p. 1: "Witnesses say they heard Mr Marshall-Andrews, a practising barrister and part-time judge, call Mr Dowd a 'faggot'."; Toby Helm, George Jones, "Panic and a punch-up as Blair tumbles to defeat at the hands of his own party", Daily Telegraph, 10 November 2005, p. 4: "Witnesses said Mr Marshall-Andrews called Mr Dowd a 'faggot'."
  8. ^ "MPs pulled apart at Commons", Financial Times Europe Information Wire, 9 November 2005
  9. ^ "Labour MPs who rebelled on Iraq". BBC News. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2006. 
  10. ^ "Labour MP urges Speaker to resign". BBC News Online. 6 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008. 
  11. ^ "MPs' expenses: Left-wing MP's £118,000 claims for second home". 6 December 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  12. ^ 51°48′44″N 5°06′06″W / 51.812361°N 5.10157°W / 51.812361; -5.10157
  13. ^ "More homes should be like Malator". Western Telegraph. 11 August 2004. Retrieved 13 November 2006. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peggy Fenner
Member of Parliament for Medway
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished