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David Ross Howarth (born 10 November 1958) is a British academic and politician who was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cambridge from 2005–10. He served as an Electoral Commissioner between 2010 and 2018.[2] He is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

David Howarth
David Howarth 02.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge
In office
6 May 2005 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byAnne Campbell
Succeeded byJulian Huppert
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
In office
18 December 2007 – 6 May 2010
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byDavid Heath
Succeeded bySimon Hughes[1]
Liberal Democrat Shadow Solicitor General
In office
2 March 2006 – 18 December 2007
LeaderNick Clegg
Personal details
Born (1958-11-10) 10 November 1958 (age 60)
Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England
Political partyLiberal Democrat
Alma materClare College, Cambridge
Yale Law School
WebsiteDavid Howarth MP

He is the author of Textbook on Tort, Law as Engineering: Thinking about What Lawyers Do and articles in academic journals and chapters in academic books. He researches into a broad range of public and private law areas, conducting empirical research. He has engaged in policy making and leadership in public roles, previously as Leader of Cambridge City Council, and as a member of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Policy Committee.

Education and academic careerEdit

David Howarth grew up on the Mossley Estate, a council estate in Bloxwich, Staffordshire, going to Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall. Attending Clare College, Cambridge on an academic scholarship, he obtained a first class degree in Law and won the George Long Jurisprudence prize. He then won a Mellon Fellowship to study at Yale Law School, gaining an LLM, and also obtained an MPhil in Sociology at Yale University. He returned to Cambridge in 1985 to take up a series of academic posts. He has a long-standing commitment to teaching as well as research, introducing sociology and economics options to the undergraduate Law programme, and is the founding Director of the MPhil in Public Policy, based in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Political careerEdit

Howarth was a Councillor on Cambridge City Council from 1987 to 2004, representing the city's Castle Ward. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cambridge City Council in 1990 when it was in third place, and then leading it to become the principal opposition on the council, eventually becoming Leader of the Council in 2000. He continued as Leader until 2003, stepping down to concentrate on winning the Cambridge parliamentary seat. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in Cambridge in 1992 and 2001, and in the nearby seat of Peterborough in 1997. In the 2005 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge, defeating Labour MP Anne Campbell, overturning a majority of 8,579, and winning with a majority of 4,339 votes (securing 44% of the votes cast). He was the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat to win Cambridge since the 1906 general election.

His work as a legislator has informed his research interests, and he has subsequently published on the legislative process (specifically the Backbench Business Committee), conducted empirical research 'The Reality of the Constitution'. Highlights of his legislative scrutiny included work on the Companies Bill; highlighting the problems with the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill; the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill; and various Criminal Justice Bills. Howarth also was successively Shadow Minister for Local Government (2005-6); Shadow Minister for Energy (2006-7); Shadow Solicitor General (2007-9); and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice (2009–10). He served on the Constitutional Affairs, Justice and Environmental Audit Select Committees.

He was one of the relatively few MPs not implicated in the 2009 expenses scandal, being singled out by The Guardian as one of the "Angels" for having "not claimed a penny in second home allowances" and commuting the 60 miles from Cambridge to Westminster.[3]

On 5 November 2009, he announced that he would be standing down as MP for Cambridge at the next election, citing a desire to return to academia, which he did after the General Election of June 2010. He was subsequently reinstated in his old job, as a Reader in Law and Land Economy at Cambridge University.[4]

He served as the Liberal Democrat nominee as an Electoral Commissioner, for two four year terms between October 2010 and October 2018.

Personal lifeEdit

David Howarth has two children and is married to Edna Howarth. Edna Howarth is a magistrate in Cambridge Magistrates' Court.[5]


  1. ^ Office next in use during the 2015 GE campaign
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gaby Hinsliff, Caroline Davies and Toby Helm (17 May 2009). "The week Britain turned its anger on politicians". The Observer. Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Lib Dem MP Howarth to stand down". BBC News. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  5. ^ House of Commons (2008). Hansard, 6 May 2008, Column 586

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Anne Campbell
Member of Parliament for Cambridge
Succeeded by
Julian Huppert