Caroline Spelman

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Dame Caroline Spelman

Official portrait of Dame Caroline Spelman crop 2.jpg
Second Church Estates Commissioner
Assumed office
21 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded by Tony Baldry
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Succeeded by Owen Paterson
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
19 January 2009 – 12 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Eric Pickles
Succeeded by John Denham
In office
15 March 2004 – 2 July 2007
Leader Michael Howard
David Cameron
Preceded by David Curry (Local and Devolved Government Affairs)
Succeeded by Eric Pickles
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party
In office
2 July 2007 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
10 November 2003 – 15 March 2004
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by David Lidington (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Succeeded by Richard Ottaway
Shadow Minister for Women
In office
14 September 2001 – 15 March 2004
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Michael Howard
Preceded by Theresa May
Succeeded by Eleanor Laing
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
18 September 2001 – 10 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Gary Streeter
Succeeded by John Bercow
Member of Parliament
for Meriden
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Iain Mills
Majority 19,198 (35.1%)
Personal details
Caroline Alice Cormack

(1958-05-04) 4 May 1958 (age 60)
Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
Political party Conservative
Mark Spelman (m. 1987)
Children 3
Alma mater Queen Mary College, University of London
Website Official website

Dame Caroline Alice Spelman DBE (née Cormack; born 4 May 1958) is a British Conservative Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. From May 2010 to September 2012[1] she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in David Cameron's coalition cabinet, and was sworn as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.[2]


Born in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, Spelman attended the Hertfordshire and Essex High School for Girls (now called The Hertfordshire and Essex High School), in Bishop's Stortford, and received a BA First Class in European Studies from Queen Mary College, University of London.

Early career

She was Sugar Beet commodity secretary for the National Farmer's Union from 1981 to 1984. She was deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (officially known as La Confédération Internationale des Betteraviers Européens – CIBE) in Paris from 1984–9, then a research fellow for the Centre for European Agricultural Studies (part of the University of Kent and since 2000 known as the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics) from 1989 to 1993. She co-owns Spelman, Cormack & Associates, a lobbying firm for the food and biotechnology industry, with her husband.[3]

Parliamentary career

Before entering Parliament in 1997, she stood unsuccessfully in the Bassetlaw constituency in Nottinghamshire at the 1992 general election.[4]

In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith appointed Spelman Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, a post she maintained until Duncan Smith's departure as Conservative Party leader. Duncan Smith's successor, Michael Howard, opted for a streamlined Shadow Cabinet and omitted Spelman; however, he later appointed her as a front bench spokeswoman on Environmental Affairs working for Theresa May. In March 2004, Spelman re-entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government Affairs, succeeding David Curry. Under David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2007 she was promoted further to become Conservative Party Chairman.

In 2009, Spelman was moved in another reshuffle to the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Eric Pickles. Since the reshuffle, Spelman has returned to the Commons backbenches. Spelman was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[5] In January 2016, Spelman became a Founding MP of Conservatives For Reform In Europe, the campaign to remain in the EU, subject to the Prime Minister's renegotiations, alongside Nick Herbert and Eric Pickles.


In 2009, during the expenses scandal it was reported that Spelman had received £40,000 for cleaning and bills for her constituency home; this was despite her husband claiming it was their main home. In 2008 she reportedly over-claimed hundreds of pounds towards her council tax.[3]

"Nannygate" controversy

On 6 June 2008, Spelman was the subject of controversy when it was suggested that for around twelve months from May 1997 she paid her child's nanny, Tina Haynes, from her parliamentary staffing allowance, contrary to the rule governing such allowances and fears of the misuse of them. Spelman claims that her nanny also acted as her constituency secretary and was paid from the public taxpayers' purse for this aspect of her further employment. Haynes confirms that occasionally she would answer phone calls and post documents but initially she denied such happenings when interviewed on BBC Two's Newsnight via telephone. The accusations came at a time when Conservative Party leader David Cameron had tasked Spelman with reviewing the use of parliamentary allowances by Conservative MPs and MEPs in the wake of the Derek Conway affair.[6]

The allegation against Spelman came shortly after two Conservative MEPs, Giles Chichester (Leader of the Conservatives in the EU Parliament) and Den Dover (Conservative Chief Whip in the EU Parliament), were forced to resign amid claims they misused their parliamentary allowances. However, Spelman was not urged to resign by party leader, David Cameron. She referred the matter pertaining to herself, her nanny and parliamentary funds to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.[7] Senior Conservative colleagues including former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis stated their support for Spelman.[8]

New allegations were reported on the BBC's Newsnight programme that nine years previously Spelman's secretary, Sally Hammond, complained to the Conservative Party leadership that she was using Parliamentary allowances to pay her nanny and that the arrangement with the nanny was over a two-year period and not one.[9]

In March 2009, the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee ruled that Caroline Spelman had misused her allowances to pay for nannying work in 1997 and 1998.[citation needed]

Privacy injunction

On 24 February 2012, the High Court in London refused to continue a privacy injunction previously granted to prevent the publication of a news item in the Daily Star Sunday involving her son. Judge Michael Tugendhat said that the injunction was "not necessary or proportionate".[10] On 2 March 2012, the Spelmans decided not to appeal against the decision, which permitted the publication of a story about her son.[11] The Spelman family was required to pay the legal costs of the Daily Star Sunday, in addition to their own legal costs of £60,994.[12][13]

Personal life

She married Mark Spelman, a senior partner at Accenture, on 25 April 1987 in south-east Kent. They have two sons and a daughter. Her husband stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2009 European elections for the West Midlands region.

The couple own a constituency home, a London townhouse and a villa in Algarve, Portugal,[14] Her wealth is estimated as £1.5m.[15]

She is a Patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.[16]

Spelman was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for political and public service as part of the Resignation Honours of the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron.[17]


  1. ^ "Green groups' concern over Owen Paterson record". BBC News. 4 September 2012. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b "The new ruling class". NewStatesman. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  4. ^ ""Election Results: Overnight declarations nationwide"". The Guardian. 10 April 1992. p. 7. Retrieved 8 October 2018 – via ProQuest. (Subscription required (help)).
  5. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  6. ^ Tory MP paid nanny from expenses Archived 18 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine., BBC
  7. ^ Tory chairman Caroline Spelman to meet standards commissioner over nanny expenses, Daily Telegraph 7 June 2008
  8. ^ Tories rally round Spelman Yahoo! News 8 June 2008 Archived 10 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "MPs call for Spelman to be sacked". BBC News. 26 June 2008. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  10. ^ "Caroline Spelman's son loses privacy injunction bid". BBC News. 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Caroline Spelman's son 'took drugs after sports injury'". BBC News. 2 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  12. ^ "Cabinet Minister's Son Sorry Over Drug Use". Sky News. 2 March 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012.
  13. ^ Savage, Tom (26 February 2012). "Court Win for the Daily Star Sunday". (The Daily Star Sunday was party to the legal action)
  14. ^ Worden, Tom (15 March 2009). ""Nannygate" Tory Caroline Spelman's properties worth nearly £5million". Sunday Mirror. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  15. ^ Glen Owen The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories Archived 27 May 2012 at Mail on Sunday 23 May 2010
  16. ^ "CCF Patrons". Conservative Christian Fellowship. Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  17. ^ "No. 61678". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 August 2016. p. RH3.

External links

  • Caroline Spelman MP official constituency website
  • Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
  • Contributions in Parliament during 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 at Hansard Archives
  • Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
  • Voting record at Public Whip
  • Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
  • Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
  • Articles authored at Journalisted
  • Profile: Caroline Spelman, BBC News, 16 October 2002
Audio clips
Video clips
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Iain Mills
Member of Parliament
for Meriden

Political offices
Preceded by
Gary Streeter
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Succeeded by
John Bercow
Preceded by
Theresa May
Shadow Minister for Women
Succeeded by
Eleanor Laing
Preceded by
David Lidington
as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment
Succeeded by
Richard Ottaway
Preceded by
David Curry
as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government Affairs
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
Eric Pickles
Preceded by
Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
John Denham
Preceded by
Hilary Benn
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Owen Paterson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Francis Maude
Chair of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Eric Pickles
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