John Whittingdale

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The Right Honourable
John Whittingdale
File:JFA Whittingdale public photo.jpg
Whittingdale in 2015
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Assumed office
11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sajid Javid
Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee
In office
14 July 2005 – 11 May 2015
Preceded by Sir Gerald Kaufman
Succeeded by Jesse Norman
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
19 June 2004 – 6 May 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Julie Kirkbride
Succeeded by Theresa May
In office
23 July 2002 – 8 December 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Tim Yeo
Succeeded by Julie Kirkbride
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
18 September 2001 – 23 July 2002
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Heathcoat-Amory
Succeeded by Tim Yeo
Member of Parliament
for Maldon
Maldon and East Chelmsford (1997–2010)
South Colchester and Maldon (1992–1997)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by John Wakeham
Majority 19,407 (40.5%)
Personal details
Born (1959-10-16) 16 October 1959 (age 59)
Sherborne, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Ancilla Murfitt (Divorced)
Children 2
Alma mater University College London
Religion Anglicanism

John Flasby Lawrance Whittingdale, OBE (born 16 October 1959)[1] is a UK Conservative politician and UK Government minister.

He has represented Maldon as its Member of Parliament (MP) since the 1992 general election and is Vice-Chairman of the 1922 Committee. He was a member of the Executive of Conservative Way Forward (2005–10) and the Conservative Party Board (2006–10).

Whittingdale was appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport by David Cameron on 11 May 2015.[2]

Early life and career

The only son of John Whittingdale FRCS[3] and Margaret née Napier,[4] via his mother Whittingdale is in distant remainder to the lordship of Napier.[5] Whittingdale was educated at Sandroyd School[6] and Winchester College, followed by University College London (UCL) where he was Chairman of UCL Conservative Society. He graduated with a 2:2 in Economics in 1982.[7][8]

From 1982–84, Whittingdale was head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department. He then served as Special Adviser to three successive Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry, Norman Tebbit (1984–85); Leon Brittan (1985–86), and Paul Channon (1986–87). He worked on international privatisation at NM Rothschild in 1987 and in January 1988, became Political Secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Upon her resignation Whittingdale was appointed OBE and continued to serve as her Political Secretary until being elected to Parliament in 1992.[9]

Parliamentary career

Whittingdale entered the House of Commons in 1992 and was appointed PPS to Eric Forth, Minister of State for Education and Employment but resigned, as is customary, after voting against the government for an amendment that would have allowed media publishers with more than a 20 per cent share of the national press market to buy an ITV company.[10]

He was later Shadow Culture Secretary from 2004 until the reshuffle following the general election in 2005, at which he was returned as Member of Parliament for Maldon and Chelmsford East. In 2005 he was appointed to the Executive of Conservative Way Forward, a Thatcherite pressure group within the Conservative Party. He is a council member of the Freedom Association and of the European Foundation. In 2008, he was elected as a Parliamentary Member to the Board of the Conservative Party and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary 1922 Committee. In 2011 he was Chairman of the Football Governance Inquiry. In 2012 he was Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Privacy and Injunctions. He now serves as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group.

Whittingdale was among the 175 MPs who voted against the Same-sex Marriage Bill in 2013.[11] In 2014 Whittingdale along with six other Conservative Party MPs voted against the Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill which would require all companies with more than 250 employees to declare the gap in pay between the average male and average female salaries.[12]

Media Select Committee

On 14 July 2005,[13] he became the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. In this role he led the committee's 2009/2010 investigation into libel and privacy issues, including the News International phone hacking scandal after The Guardian first revealed the extent of the practice at the News of the World. He was alleged to have warned members of the committee to consider not compelling former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to testify due to the potential risk that their personal lives would be investigated in revenge, but has strongly denied the accusation.[14]

In April 2011, he called for a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World and to why a series of investigations by Scotland Yard failed to link any News International employees to phone hacking other than the News of the World's former royal editor, Clive Goodman. Whittingdale said: "There are some very big questions; what I find [most] worrying is the apparent unwillingness of the police, who had the evidence and chose to do nothing with it. That's something that needs to be looked into."[15]

With just one out of three of News International's senior executives agreeing to appear before the committee session on 19 July, Whittingdale took the rarely used step of issuing a summons to compel the Murdochs to attend.[16] Whittingdale said Select Committees had taken such steps against individuals in the past and they had complied and continued "I hope very much that the Murdochs will respond similarly."[17] They both did, on 19 July, in what one paper described as the most important Select Committee hearing in parliamentary history.[18]

For its successful work on the phone hacking scandal, Whittingdale accepted The Spectator's 2011 "Inquisitor of the Year" award on behalf of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Funding and expenses

In 2012 Whittingdale received £8,000 for 32 hours' work as a non-executive director of Audio Network plc, an online music catalogue.[19] He was also reimbursed expenses for official visits to Yalta, Taiwan and Armenia.[19]

Culture secretary

Whittingdale was sworn into the Privy Council in May 2015 as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport .[20]

In April 2016, Shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle called for Whittingdale to recuse himself from decisions regarding the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics because the story about Whittingdale's former girlfriend being a sex worker exposed him to pressure from the press.[21] A week later, it emerged that Whittingdale had accepted hospitality from the Lap Dancing Association in about 2008 at which time Whittingdale and two other MPs visited two clubs in one evening, while the industry's licensing was under investigation by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee. The hospitality was not declared in the register of members' interests, or later when Whittingdale later spoke out in the Commons against new regulations introduced by the Labour government.[22][23]

Personal life

Whittingdale married Ancilla Campbell Murfitt, a nurse and school governor, in 1990; the couple had two (now adult) children before their divorce.[24][25] Whittingdale's half-brother is Charles Napier, former treasurer of the defunct Paedophile Information Exchange, who was most recently convicted of child sexual abuse offences in November 2014.[26]

On 12 April 2016, British media reported Whittingdale had been involved in a relationship with a female sex worker between August 2013 and February 2014. In a statement to the BBC's Newsnight programme, he said he had been unaware of his girlfriend's true occupation after meeting her through, and that he had ended the relationship after he had discovered it through reports that the story was being offered for publication to tabloids.[21][27] On 13 April David Cameron's spokesman said, "John Whittingdale’s view was that this was in the past, and had been dealt with."[28]

See also


  1. "Democracy Live: Your representatives: John Whittingdale". BBC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. John Whittingdale becomes UK culture secretary, BBC, 11 May 2015
  3. Plarr's Lives of RCS Fellows Online
  4. Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 2862 (NAPIER, L). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Napier of Merchistoun, Lord (S, 1627)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Sandroyd School's list of Distinguished Alumni
  7. John Plunkett. "John Whittingdale, the horror fan putting the frighteners on the BBC". the Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "People of Today Index, People of Today, People of Influence - Debrett's".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. The Independent And the Real Winners Will Be..., 18 July 2011
  11. "Gay marriage how did your mp vote Map". 6 February 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Equal Pay: Seven male Tory MPs vote against bill to make big companies reveal gender pay gap". 16 December 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "The MPs who will take on the Murdochs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. The Guardian report on hacking, 13 April 2011
  16. "Committee calls Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks". UK Parliament.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. The Guardian report on hacking scandal, 14 July 2011.
  18. Sparrow, Andrew; Owen, Paul; Wells, Matt (19 July 2011). "Phone hacking: Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks face MPs". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "John Whittingdale Conservative MP for Maldon". Retrieved 26 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Privy Council appointments: May 2015".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Minister John Whittingdale admits relationship with sex worker". BBC News. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Watts, Joseph (19 April 2016). "John Whittingdale caught in lapdance club row". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Wright, Oliver (19 April 2016). "John Whittingdale admits to taking free dinner with performers at lapdance club". The Independent. Retrieved 19 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Vote 2001: Candidate; John Whittingdale". BBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Plunkett, John (18 May 2015). "John Whittingdale, the horror fan putting the frighteners on the BBC". Retrieved 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Charles Napier admits string of historic sex offences against boys". The Daily Telegraph. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Peter Dominiczak, (13 April 2016). "John Whittingdale had relationship with 'dominatrix'". The Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Wakeham
Member of Parliament
for Colchester South and Maldon

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Maldon and East Chelmsford

Member of Parliament
for Maldon

Political offices
Preceded by
David Heathcoat-Amory
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Tim Yeo
Preceded by
Tim Yeo
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Julie Kirkbride
Preceded by
Julie Kirkbride
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Theresa May
Preceded by
Sajid Javid
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport