Sandra Gidley

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Sandra Gidley
Sandra Gidley, September 2009 1 rotated and cropped.jpg
Gidley at a Health Hotel session during the 2009 Liberal Democrat Party Conference
Member of Parliament
for Romsey
In office
4 May 2000 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byMichael Colvin
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1957-03-26) 26 March 1957 (age 62)
Rossett, Wrexham, Wales
Political partyLiberal Democrat
Children1 son, 1 daughter
Alma materUniversity of Bath

Sandra Julia Gidley (née Rawson; born 26 March 1957) is a Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom. She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Romsey in Hampshire from a 2000 to 2010, when she lost her seat to Conservative candidate Caroline Nokes.


Born Sandra Julia Rawson in Rosset, Denbighshire in Wales, she was educated at the Eggar's Grammar School in Alton, Hampshire; the Afcent International School in Brunssum, Netherlands; and the Windsor Girls' School in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. She finished her education at the University of Bath where she was awarded a BPharm degree in 1978. She became a MRPharmS in 1979.

In 1979 she joined Badham Chemists as a pharmacist in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, until she was appointed as a pharmacy manager with GK Chemists in Gloucester in 1980. She became a locum pharmacist in 1982 before joining Safeway as a supermarket pharmacy manager in 1992, and joined Tesco in the same position in 1999 where she remained until her election to the House of Commons.

On 17 July 2019, Gidley was announced as the first female President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.[1]

Parliamentary career[edit]

She joined the Liberal Democrats in 1994, was elected as a councillor to the Test Valley Borough Council in 1995 and was, in 1997, the youngest ever female mayor of Romsey.[2]

After Romsey's Conservative MP Michael Colvin died in a fire at his home in Tangley on 24 February 2000,[3] Gidley was selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the resulting by-election. She won the by-election, on 4 May, with a majority of 3,311 votes[4] and won in the 2001 and 2005 general elections. However, in 2005 her majority was reduced to only 125 votes, the smallest of any Lib Dem MP, by the Conservative candidate, Caroline Nokes.[5] She was appointed as the party's spokeswoman on women's issues and older people from 2001. In January 2006, as Kennedy faced allegations of a drink problem, Gidley was one of 11 members of the front-bench team to write to Kennedy asking him to resign.[6] Gidley chaired her party's Gender Balance Task Force,[7] an initiative to get more women into politics.

The Romsey constituency was abolished for the 2010 election, and in the new Romsey and Southampton North constituency she was defeated by the Conservative candidate Caroline Nokes, who took the new seat a majority of 4,165 votes following the expenses scandal, in which it emerged Gidley accepted a £18,700 'windfall' from her London landlord in return for an increase in her taxpayer funded rent.[8]

Criticism of parliamentary expenses[edit]

Gidley was sometimes described as "Hampshire's most expensive MP" by her political opponents,[9] claiming £160,000 in 2007/08, and £187,000 in another year, midst concerns she was using tax payer's money to fund her political and re-election campaign.[10] It emerged the Tax Payer was paying money to her party's constituency office, including paying the business rates, £60 for water, over £600 a year on telephones, and £960 on tea, coffee and cleaning.[11][12] In 2011, her successor, Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, claimed £87,000 a year less in expenses than Gidley.[13] However in 2017–2018 Caroline Nokes was claiming £168,297.18 in expenses.[14] Whilst an MP, Gidley was claiming £1,638 a month[15] for a luxury flat with indoor swimming pool in London,[16] as well as £420 a month for food, and over £1,000 for Council Tax,[17][18] and was criticised when it emerged she and three other Lib Dem MPs, accepted a £18,700 cash windfall from the landlord of the Dolphin Square flat, in return for agreeing to an increase in their rent, which was funded by the taxpayer. She was found to have "accepted one-off cash payment from the owners of an apartment block close to Parliament in return for agreeing to pay higher rent levels". A Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges was critical of Gidley's 'serious misjudgment' in accepting the windfall, said she had broke the rules, and was forced to apologise for it.[19][20][21][22]

Return to politics[edit]

Gidley stood unsuccessfully in the 2013 Hampshire County Council election against incumbent Conservative Councillor Roy Perry, former Member of the European Parliament and also the father of Caroline Nokes, the Conservative candidate who defeated her in 2010.[23]

In the 2019 Local Elections, Gidley returned to Test Valley Council as the Councillor for Romsey Abbey ward defeating the Conservative Party incumbent.[24]

Lord Rennard[edit]

Gidley was her Party's Front Bench Spokesperson on Women's issues, and Chair of the Lib Dems 'Gender Balance Taskforce'[25] at the time it emerged the Party's Chief Executive, Lord Rennard, was accused of a series of sexual assaults against women.[26] She appeared on the BBC and admitted that the Lib Dems had 'screwed up'.[26] However, several days later she claimed she had informed party leader Nick Clegg of the concerns over Rennard's conduct. Neither Nick Clegg or Sandra Gidley knew of any specific details as stated by Nick Clegg's spokesman "Sandra Gidley once raised general concerns with Nick Clegg about Lord Rennard's conduct. She did not know of or raise specific allegations.".[27]

Personal life[edit]

Gidley and her husband Bill, an electronics engineer, married in 1979 and have lived in Romsey since 1986. They have a daughter, Gemma, and a son, Nick, who both attended local state schools. Gidley was for many years a voluntary antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust and has been involved with many charitable organisations.

She enjoys badminton, and lists reading, cookery and the theatre amongst her hobbies, and is a supporter of Macmillan Cancer Relief.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sandra Gidley". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Sandra Gidley". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Police find remains at MP's house". BBC News Online. 1 March 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  4. ^ Ward, Lucy (6 May 2000). "Lib Dems hail byelection win as snub to Tory hard line". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  5. ^ "UK General Election results May 2005". Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  6. ^ Booth, Jenny (6 January 2006). "Charles Kennedy defies growing revolt from his MPs". London: The Times. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  7. ^ "History of the Campaign for Gender Balance". Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  8. ^ "Lib Dem's Sandra Gidley loses seat after 10 years". BBC News. 7 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Archive | Archive of stories uploaded to the Daily Echo website". Daily Echo. 3 April 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Archive | Archive of stories uploaded to the Daily Echo website". Daily Echo. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Incidental Expenses Provision/Staffing Allowance" (PDF). Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Incidental Expenses Provision/Staffing Allowance" (PDF). Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  13. ^ "MP expenses scandal is history – watchdog (From Daily Echo)". 7 September 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority". Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Member's Reimbursement Form" (PDF). Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  16. ^ "MPs' expenses: Full list of MPs investigated by the". Telegraph. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  17. ^ "Member's claim form" (PDF). Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  18. ^ "Romsey MP only claimed rent and bills on expenses (From Daily Echo)". 10 December 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  19. ^ Andrew Pierce (20 April 2010). "GENERAL ELECTION 2010: Nick Clegg omitted LibDems own MPs' expenses saga | Mail Online". Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  20. ^ Swaine, Jon (19 March 2010). "MPs' expenses: Lib Dem MPs broke rules by taking landlord payments". Telegraph. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  21. ^ "MP ordered to apologise to Commons (From Daily Echo)". 19 March 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  22. ^ "Lib Dem MPs criticised after second home rent probe". BBC News. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  23. ^[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Test Valley Borough Council election 2019: As it happened". Andover Advertiser. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  25. ^ "History (Campaign For Gender Balance)". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  26. ^ a b "BBC iPlayer – The World Tonight: 25/02/2013". 25 February 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  27. ^ Andrew Woodcock (27 February 2013). "MP Sandra Gidley 'told Nick Clegg of Rennard concerns' after he became leader – UK Politics – UK". The Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2013.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Colvin
Member of Parliament for Romsey
Constituency abolished
(see Romsey & Southampton North)