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Owen William Paterson (born 24 June 1956) is a British Conservative Party politician who was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2012 to 2014. He was first elected as the Member of Parliament for North Shropshire at the 1997 general election.


Owen Paterson

Official portrait of Mr Owen Paterson crop 2.jpg
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
4 September 2012 – 14 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byCaroline Spelman
Succeeded byElizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byShaun Woodward
Succeeded byTheresa Villiers
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byDavid Lidington
Succeeded byShaun Woodward
Member of Parliament
for North Shropshire
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byJohn Biffen
Majority16,355 (29.4%)
Personal details
Born
Owen William Paterson

(1956-06-24) 24 June 1956 (age 63)
Whitchurch, Shropshire, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
Rose Ridley (m. 1980)
Children3
EducationRadley College
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Cambridge
Websiteowenpaterson.org

Paterson was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet of David Cameron in 2007 as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. During the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010, he was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, where he remained until being moved to DEFRA in 2012. He has since been more widely known as a leading supporter of Brexit and an outspoken critic of the European Union.

In 2014, he established and became the Chairman of UK 2020, a right-wing think tank based in Westminster. In 2016, Paterson became part of Leave Means Leave's political advisory board.[1]

Early life and careerEdit

Paterson was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire and grew up on his family's farm. He attended Abberley Hall School and Radley College, before reading History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He then went on to the National Leathersellers College (now the British School of Leather Technology at the University of Northampton).[2]

He joined his family business, British Leather Company, in 1979, becoming Sales Director in 1983 and managing director from 1993 to 1999.[3] He was President of COTANCE (the Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community),[4] the European Tanners Confederation from 1996 to 1998. He was a Director of Parsons and Sons[5] leather company in Halesowen in the 1990s. Paterson is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Leathersellers' Company.

At the 1992 general election, Paterson contested Wrexham, but the incumbent Labour MP extended his lead with a 2.4% swing.

Parliamentary careerEdit

Paterson was first elected as the Member of Parliament for North Shropshire at the 1997 general election with a majority of 2,195 and has increased his majority at each subsequent election, up to 16,584 in 2015.[6]

He served on several committees, including the Welsh Affairs Committee (1997–2001), the European Standing Committee (1998–2001), and the Agriculture Committee (2000–01).[7] Paterson is a supporter of the Royal Irish Regiment, which has been based in his constituency at Tern Hill.[8]

Early front bench postsEdit

Paterson was Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister from 2003 to 2005. As agriculture spokesman he campaigned for the dairy industry. He visited Michigan, Maryland and Washington to discuss Bovine TB policy, writing extensively on the issue facing the UK.[9] He travelled all over the North Atlantic to produce a Green paper on Fisheries.[10] Paterson joined the crew of the Kiroan, one of the few remaining trawlers out of Fleetwood, Lancashire, to view the fishing practices that have been created by the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.[11] He wrote the Green paper "Consultation on a National Policy on Fisheries Management in U.K. Waters".[12]

Paterson served as Shadow Minister for Transport from 2005 to 2007. Whilst he was Shadow Minister for Roads, Paterson researched relevant best practice and the latest ideas from Europe and North America.[10]

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern IrelandEdit

He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 2 July 2007.

Paterson negotiated an agreement with the Ulster Unionist Party to re-establish the traditional links between the two parties, which was broken in 1972.[13] This included running joint Conservative/UUP candidates for the 2009 European and 2010 general elections.

News of this alliance was praised by several Conservatives, including Iain Dale and ConservativeHome.[14][15] However, the alliance caused the UUP's only MP, Sylvia Hermon, to resign from the UUP. Lady Hermon retained her seat successfully against the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists in the 2010 Westminster election. The UUP lost seats at the assembly elections the following year.

Secretary of State for Northern IrelandEdit

Paterson was appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the Coalition Government on 12 May 2010.[16] He was created a Privy Councillor on 13 May 2010.[17]

One of his first tasks was overseeing the publication and delivery of the Saville Report on the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972, which led to an apology by the Prime Minister David Cameron.[18] He worked with the Treasury to deliver his promise of a consultation on the devolution of the power to reduce the rate of Corporation Tax[19] to Stormont. Paterson stated that "Rebalancing and rebuilding the economy is critical to the future prosperity of Northern Ireland and it is one of the Government's key priorities for Northern Ireland."[20] He has been outspoken on the issue of integrated education in Northern Ireland. Currently 95% of Northern Ireland pupils attend a segregated school. Paterson believes segregated education is not working; in October 2010 he said: “there's a school in Belfast with no pupils and there's a school in Belfast with more staff than pupils. That's just a criminal waste of public money. We cannot go on bearing the cost of segregation and I don't see why the British taxpayer should continue to subsidise segregation."[21]

Paterson was the first cabinet member to publicly oppose the Coalition Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill,[22] defying David Cameron and ministerial convention.[23]

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural AffairsEdit

 
Paterson speaking in 2013

Paterson was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in September 2012.[24]

Despite his voting record "moderately for" laws to stop climate change,[25] he is a climate change sceptic,[24] and has not accepted David MacKay's offer of a briefing on climate change science.[26] During his time in office, Paterson cut funding for climate change adaptation by approximately 40%. In 2014 the outgoing Environment Agency chair Chris Smith said that flood defence budget cuts had left the agency underfunded and hampered its ability to prevent and respond to flooding in the UK.[27][28][29] When asked in a 2013 BBC interview about the alleged failure of a badger cull he had been responsible for, Paterson replied that "the badgers have moved the goalposts."[30]

Paterson voted and spoke strongly against the fox hunting ban, in one speech likening supporters of the bill to Nazis.[24][31] Coming as Justine Greening was removed as Transport Secretary, Paterson's appointment was widely considered to be part of a move back towards the expansion of Heathrow Airport, given his support for aviation.[32] Paterson stated on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions? in June 2013 that "the temperature has not changed in the last 17 years ...".[33]

Paterson is known as a strong supporter of GMO food technology. Even before he acceded to DEFRA in September 2012, he spoke at length in June of the same year at the Rothamsted Research facility and invited GMO innovators to take root in the UK.[34] In December 2012, he labelled consumer opposition to the technology as a "complete nonsense".[35] In October 2013, he branded opponents to the development of a type of GMO rice enriched with vitamin A "wicked".[36]

Paterson was mentioned by journalist Benedict Brogan as a possible replacement on the European Commission when the term of Baroness Ashton expired.[37] Paterson was one of three MPs to leave the cabinet as part of the re-shuffle on 15 July 2014, and was succeeded by Elizabeth Truss as Environment Secretary.[38][39] His departure was widely attributed to his botched handling of the summer floods and the badger cull.[40][41][42] Paterson praises Britain's shale gas reserves as "one unexpected and potentially huge windfall."[24] The Guardian reported in December 2014 that Paterson had spoken the previous October at a meeting of the London Swinton Group, which opposes non-white immigration and calls for the return of capital punishment.[43]

In a searing critique of Paterson, the "i" journalist Ian Birrell wrote that Paterson "was hailed by some on the right as a future leader before his bumbling incompetence and climate-change scepticism became too blatant to ignore and he was returned to the backbenches".[44]

Paterson as BrexiteerEdit

Retiring to the backbenches Paterson, long known for his Euroscepticism, supported the successful Leave.EU campaign. Throughout the campaign he was an active voice, setting out the reasons in his constituency for a decision to go it alone.[45] On 26 June 2016, he spoke about his long friendship with colleague Sir Bill Cash MP, who has shared his career ambitions for Brexit. Earlier in the year, he spoke at an international forum outlining his vision for Britain outside the Union.[46]

In 2015, Paterson joined John Redwood to found an internal pressure group Conservatives for Britain which took pride of place at the party conference in Manchester pledging on the fringe to strive for independence from European interventionism; it formed the backbone of the Conservative effort for Leave: "if there are individuals in the cabinet who are not happy with the deal, they should be allowed to campaign," he told The Daily Telegraph, alluding perhaps to the real reason for his own resignation the previous year.[47] He continued to be critical of Prime Minister Cameron's attempts to negotiate a settlement with European Union over net migration figures, an issue that featured highly in the referendum campaign.[48] Since his return to the backbenches, he has been an outspoken critic of the European Union, and is on the political advisory board of Pro-Clean Brexit advocacy group Leave Means Leave[49]

In 2014, Paterson established UK 2020, an independent centre-right think tank, to develop policies to address challenging and complex public policy areas.[50] In his role as chairman, Paterson has delivered a number of speeches and written Op-Eds in favour of GM crops,[51][52] and against the European Union and "exaggerated" climate change forecasts.[53][54][55]

Paterson as ConsultantEdit

Since being returned to the backbenches Paterson has gained substantial income from a range of consultancy activities. It has been reported that besides his salary as an MP he earns £8,333 a month for a monthly commitment of 16 hours from Randox Laboratories, Northern Ireland.[56] He also receives £2,000 for 4 hrs every other month (24 hrs a year) to a total of £12,000 per annum from Lynn's Country Foods Ltd, a Northern Ireland based processor and distributor of sausages. He received payment of £4,399.06 from the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association Ltd for a single speech.[57]

AllegationsEdit

In January 2019 it emerged that Paterson had received £39,000 of funding for overseas trips from the thinktank UK 2020, for which Paterson is the chairman and sole director.[58][59] MPs are required to declare the source of funds for any overseas visit worth more than £300, however although Paterson had declared the trips, the Labour party called for a parliamentary investigation with the shadow Cabinet Office minister. Jon Trickett writing to the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, his letter stated “Paterson appears to be both the recipient of donations and the controlling intermediary through which they are paid”. He said without information on the true source of donations, “the register of members’ interests is unable to fulfil its vital purpose”. Paterson has stated “All the expenses incurred on these trips have been declared according to parliamentary rules.”, but has not confirmed the original source of the funding.[60][61]

Personal lifeEdit

Paterson married Rose Ridley, the daughter of Matthew Ridley, 4th Viscount Ridley and sister of Matt Ridley in 1980.[62] They have two sons and a daughter. They are Felix, Ned and Evie.[63] Paterson speaks fluent French and German.[64] He lives near Ellesmere, north Shropshire and also has a house in Drôme, France.[65]

Paterson is a keen horse rider and racer. He has ridden across Turkmenistan and most recently Mongolia.[66] His daughter, Evie, is a successful eventer who won the British Junior Eventing Championships in 2008, aged 16.[67] In January 2018 he fell from a horse while riding and broke 3 vertebrae in his back.[68]

In February 2014, he suffered from a detached retina and required urgent surgery to prevent loss of sight in that eye.[69][70]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave.
  2. ^ Carrington, Damian (11 October 2012). "Owen Paterson: true blue countryman putting wind up green campaigners". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Owen Paterson appointed as DEFRA secretary – Farmers Weekly". Farmers Weekly. 4 September 2012.
  4. ^ "COTANCE". Euroleather. Archived from the original on 15 November 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ www.parsonsandsons.co.uk Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "BBC – Shropshire's MPs hold onto their seats". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Rt Hon Owen Paterson". Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "Politicians clash in wristband row". Shropshire Star. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  9. ^ Paterson, Owen (6 December 2005). "Owen Paterson MP visits the USA to discuss Bovine TB Policy". Farmers Weekly. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  10. ^ a b "The Conservative Party|People|Members of Parliament|Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  11. ^ Charles Clover, Richard North (18 October 2004). "Fishermen call for end to slaughter caused by EU net laws". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  12. ^ Paterson MP, Owen (January 2005), Consultation on a National Policy on Fisheries Management in UK Waters (PDF), Conservative Party, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2005, retrieved 16 September 2011 Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ Andrew Porter (23 July 2008). "David Cameron launches biggest Conservative shake-up for decades". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  14. ^ Iain Dale (24 July 2008). "A Landmark Day for Northern Ireland Politics". Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  15. ^ Jonathan Isaby (21 November 2008). "In praise of Owen Paterson and the Tory/UUP deal". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Owen Paterson new NI Secretary of State". BBC News. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ "Bloody Sunday: PM David Cameron's full statement". BBC News. 15 June 2010.
  19. ^ "NI corporation tax cut 'benefits all' – Owen Paterson". BBC News. 30 March 2011.
  20. ^ [1] Archived 20 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Paterson sparks segregation row – UTV Live News". U.tv. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  22. ^ Watt, Nicholas (22 May 2012). "Tory minister Owen Paterson opposes gay marriage". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Owen Paterson to defy Cameron on gay marriage vote". The Shropshire Star. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  24. ^ a b c d Watt, Holly (4 September 2012). "Owen Paterson becomes new Environment Secretary". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  25. ^ "Owen Paterson's Voting Record". They Work For You. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  26. ^ Webster, Ben (28 September 2013). "Climate expert David MacKay plants artificial tree idea for reducing warming". The Australian. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  27. ^ Carrington, Damian (8 July 2014). "Flooding: documents reveal UK government's spin on protection cuts". The Guardian.
  28. ^ Carrington, Damian (27 January 2014). "UK climate change spend almost halved under Owen Paterson, figures reveal". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Carrington, Damian (26 June 2014). "Lord Smith: flooding budget cuts put UK at the mercy of extreme weather". The Guardian.
  30. ^ "Badgers 'moved goalposts' says minister Owen Paterson". BBC News. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  31. ^ "Owen Paterson faces choice between ideology and evidence". Business Green. September 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Green groups' concern over Owen Paterson record". BBC. September 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  33. ^ Cusick, James (29 November 2013). "Owen Paterson, his sceptic brother-in-law, and how Defra went cold on climate change". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  34. ^ "Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP speech to Rothamsted Research – Speeches". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  35. ^ Kirkup, By Robert Winnett and James. "Food minister Owen Paterson backs GM crops". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  36. ^ "GM 'golden rice' opponents wicked, says minister Owen Paterson". BBC News. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  37. ^ "Opinion".
  38. ^ Phipps, Claire (15 July 2014). "Reshuffle at a glance: who's in and who's out". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  39. ^ "LIVE: Who's in and who's out – the full reshuffle list". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  40. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle: A new-look team that David Cameron hopes will keep him in Downing Street". The Independent. London. 15 July 2014.
  41. ^ "Seven Priorities for Liz Truss, the New Environment Secretary". HuffPost. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  42. ^ "Badger cull protesters crow as Owen Paterson sacked in Cabinet reshuffle". Somerset Live. 15 July 2014. Archived from the original on 3 October 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  43. ^ Mason, Rowena (17 December 2014). "Senior Conservatives in spotlight over speeches to 'vile' rightwing fringe group". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  44. ^ The "i" newspaper, 19 November 2018, page 15
  45. ^ "North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson emerges as key figure for Brexit". Shropshire Star. 20 February 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  46. ^ Paterson, Owen (25 April 2016). "The Future of Europe". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  47. ^ "50 Conservative MPs ready to lead campaign for EU exit". The Guardian. Press Association. 6 June 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  48. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (30 November 2014). "Owen Paterson: immigration issue cannot wait for EU renegotiation". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  49. ^ "Leave means leave". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  50. ^ UK 2020. "UK 2020 About". Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  51. ^ Paterson, Owen (29 November 2014). "Frankenfine". The Economist. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  52. ^ Webster, Ben (24 February 2015). "GM protesters 'condemning millions to hunger'". The Times. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  53. ^ "Ex-Conservative minister Owen Paterson urges UK's EU exit". BBC News. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  54. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (15 October 2014). "Former Environment Secretary: climate change forecasts are 'wildly exaggerated'". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  55. ^ Driver, Alistair (5 August 2015). "Owen Paterson – still battling the 'green blob' one year on". FG Insight. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  56. ^ Andrews, Mark. "North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson denies breaking lobbying rules". www.shropshirestar.com. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  57. ^ "they work for you". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  58. ^ "UK 2020 LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  59. ^ Pegg, David; Evans, Rob; Lawrence, Felicity (22 January 2019). "Owen Paterson trips worth £39,000 funded by unknown donors". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  60. ^ "House of Commons - The Code of Conduct together with The Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  61. ^ Pegg, David; Evans, Rob; Lawrence, Felicity (24 January 2019). "Labour demands inquiry into £39,000 funding for Owen Paterson's trips". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  62. ^ "www.burkespeerage.com". burkespeerage.com. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  63. ^ "About Owen". Owen Paterson. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  64. ^ "About Owen". Owen Paterson MP. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  65. ^ "Country Life interviews Owen Patterson". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  66. ^ Cassandra Jardine (5 August 2011). "Owen Paterson on the Mongol Derby". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  67. ^ "MP's daughter scoops title". 21 May 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  68. ^ Horton, Helena (2018). "Tory MP Owen Paterson breaks his back after falling off horse". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  69. ^ "MP Owen Paterson to have urgent operation on detached retina". BBC News. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  70. ^ "Owen Paterson to miss Cobra meeting for eye surgery". ITV. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Biffen
Member of Parliament
for North Shropshire

1997–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
David Lidington
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Shaun Woodward
Preceded by
Shaun Woodward
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Theresa Villiers
Preceded by
Caroline Spelman
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Liz Truss