Anthony David Steen CBE (born 22 July 1939) is a British Conservative Party politician who was a member of parliament (MP) from 1974 to 2010, and the chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation.[1] Having represented Totnes in Devon since 1997, he was previously MP for South Hams from 1983, and had also been the MP for Liverpool Wavertree between February 1974 and 1983.

Anthony Steen

Member of Parliament
for Totnes
South Hams (1983–1997)
In office
10 June 1983 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byConstituency Created
Succeeded bySarah Wollaston
Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Wavertree
In office
1 March 1974 – 13 May 1983
Preceded byJohn Tilney
Succeeded byConstituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1939-07-22) 22 July 1939 (age 80)
Marylebone, London
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Carolyn Padfield
Alma materUniversity College, London

He is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost figures acting to combat human trafficking in the UK, and in 2015 he was appointed a CBE for his outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery. In February 2016 he and Sir John Randall were appointed Special Envoys on modern slavery to the Mayor of London.[2]

Early lifeEdit

He was born in 1939 to Ashkenazi Jewish parents, Stephen Nicholas Steen (formerly Stein[3]), one time chairman and president of Smith & Nephew,[4] and Jacqueline Annette, daughter of William[5] (formerly Wolko or Woolf) Slavouski, a Russian fur and skin trader.[6] He attended Westminster School and University College London where he gained an LLB. He became a barrister in 1962.

In 1964, he founded Task Force, an organisation where young people help the elderly with the help of a government grant and served as its Director from 1964–68. He then founded the Young Volunteer Force, serving as Director from 1968–74. He also worked on the Court Martials' Defence Counsel for the Ministry of Defence from 1964–68. From 1964–67 he lectured in Law at the Council of Legal Education. From 1970–71, he was an advisor to federal and provincial Canadian governments on unemployment and youth problems.

Parliamentary careerEdit

In his role as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the trafficking of women and children, Steen did much to raise awareness of the scourge of human trafficking in the UK.[citation needed]

Viewed as being on the left of the party, he backed Kenneth Clarke's leadership bids. In 2001, he was one of Clarke's most vocal supporters, denouncing the supporters of Iain Duncan Smith as bigots.

In February 2010, he saw his Private Member's Bill to establish a national Anti-Slavery Day passed through the House of Commons. Since then there have been two annual event to mark Anti-Slavery Day and raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking in the UK, including in 2011 when activities took place across the country. In London, Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a reception at 10 Downing Street to mark the occasion, whilst the inaugural Human Trafficking Foundation Media Awards took place at the House of Lords.

Steen describes himself as a 'Euro-pragmatist' and is firmly in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union.

Expenses scandalEdit

In May 2009 he was involved in the parliamentary expenses scandal, and was reported by The Daily Telegraph to have claimed over £87,000 on his constituency mansion which he designated as his second home. Expenses included items for rabbit fencing, tree surgery (his home is surrounded by 500 trees, he also claimed for their inspection,[7]) woodland consultants and bore hole maintenance.[8] As a result, he announced he would not contest the next general election.[9]

Here is the full transcript of the interview for BBC Radio's World at One programme on 21 May 2009:

"I think I behaved, if I may say so, impeccably. I've done nothing criminal, that's the most awful thing, and do you know what it's about? Jealousy. I've got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. It's the photographs, it looks like Balmoral, but it's a merchant's house of the 19th century. It's not particularly attractive, it just does me nicely – it's got room to actually plant a few trees."

"Can you understand why there has been this outcry?"

"Look, that's clearly what has emerged. But, and I understand now, it was there for claims to maintenance of your home and garden. I was never told otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, and as of this day, I don't know what the fuss is about."

"So why have you decided to stand down? Why not stay as an MP and fight your corner?"

"No, no. I understand your message. This decision was taken by me and me alone. I'd no pressure at all from the party leader. Quite the contrary, I think he was a bit surprised! He didn't understand that I was going to do it. I think it was a shock to him. The pressure came from the constituents. And I took soundings and the last week I've been taking soundings, and they are absolutely beside themselves with anger."

"Why is it, do you think, that you didn't anticipate, you didn't see what the public reaction would be, when they found out what MPs were claiming for, such as trees?"

"This was a failure on my part. We have a wretched government here, which has completely mucked up the system and caused resignation of me and many others 'cause it was this government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act, and it's this government that's insisted for the things which has actually caught me on the wrong foot. Which if I'd been cleverer it wouldn't have done."

"So you don't think any of the information should have ever been released?"

"No! What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None. Do you know what this remindes me of, this whole episode? An episode from Coronation Street. Do you know what members are doing now? They are waiting by their phones between three and four o'clock in the afternoon because that's the time the Prime Minister used to ring you if you were going to get a job, and now it's a question of whether the Daily Telegraph are going to ring you because that's the time they will ring you. 'Is it the Prime Minister?' 'No, it's the Daily Telegraph.' They just know this is a kangaroo court going on."

Human Trafficking FoundationEdit

Having founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, Steen established the Human Trafficking Foundation, an organisation that works with NGOs and charities in the sector combatting human trafficking around the UK. Since the Foundation's inception, the UK Government have signed up to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking and introduced a new strategy to combat trafficking, whilst Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the first-ever reception at 10 Downing Street to mark Anti-Slavery Day 2011.

Under Steen's stewardship, the Human Trafficking Foundation is working with ECPAT UK and Asociata High Level Group for Children (Romania) to establish Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking, a Europe-wide project to forge a network of parliamentarians across the continent fighting human trafficking.

Personal lifeEdit

He married Carolyn Padfield in 1966. She is a child psychologist. They have a son Jason who has a consultancy in London specialising in aviation is married with two children living in London, and a daughter Xanthe, who is a qualified teacher and has worked as a TV presenter and writer in London.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Dugan, Emily (16 October 2010). "Think slavery is a thing of the past? Think again". The Independent. London.
  2. ^ "Mayor appoints special envoys in fight against human trafficking |". (Press release). London City Hall. 18 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Forthcoming marriages", The Times, 29 December 1933, pg. 13
  4. ^ "Top executive changes at Smith & Nephew", The Times, 20 July 1976, pg. 18
  5. ^ "Deaths", The Times, 23 June 1944, pg. 1
  6. ^ "Naturalization", London Gazette, 2 August 1932, pg. 5004
  7. ^ Morris, Nigel (22 May 2009). "Tory maverick: 'You're all just jealous'". The Independent. London.
  8. ^ Allen, Nick (16 May 2009). "Anthony Steen claimed £87,000 on country mansion with 500 trees: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  9. ^ Pierce, Andrew; Irvine, Chris (20 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Anthony Steen to stand down as MP at next election". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Tilney
Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree
28 February 1974 – 9 June 1983
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Constituency created
Member of Parliament for South Hams
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Constituency created
Member of Parliament for Totnes
1 May 1997 – 7 May 2010
Sarah Wollaston