Martha Lane Fox

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
Martha Lane-Fox at Sprint14.jpg
Personal details
Born Martha Lane Fox
(1973-02-10) 10 February 1973 (age 45)
Oxford, UK
Nationality British
Political party Crossbencher
Occupation Entrepreneur, life peer

Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho,[1] CBE (born 10 February 1973) is a British businesswoman, philanthropist and public servant.

Lane Fox co-founded in the dotcom boom of the early 2000s and has subsequently served on public service digital projects. She is a board member of Twitter, and, and chairs the board of the digital skills charity, Go ON UK and was on the board of Channel 4 from 2007 to 2011.

Lane Fox joined the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member.[2] Lane Fox was also appointed as Chancellor of the Open University as of 12 March 2014.[3]

Lane Fox is a convenor of the cross-party political movement, More United.[4]

Early life

Born in Oxford, Lane Fox is the daughter of the academic and gardening writer Robin Lane Fox. She was educated at Oxford High School, an all-girls independent school in Oxford, and at Westminster School, an all-boys public school in London with a mixed-sex sixth form. She read ancient and modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.[5]


After university she showed interest in acting and prison governorship but joined the consulting firm Spectrum, involved in IT and media companies.[citation needed] Her first project was for British Telecom called "What is the Internet?" Here she met Brent Hoberman, a fellow employee.[citation needed]

In 1998, Lane Fox and Hoberman founded, an online travel and gift business that generated great publicity, floating at the peak of the dot-com bubble.[5] On 20 November 2003, it was announced that she would step down as managing director of The company survived the dotcom crash to be bought for £577m in 2005, by Sabre Holdings.[6] Lane Fox's personal share holding at the time the company was bought was worth £13 million.[5]

Lady Lane-Fox with her father Robin Lane Fox, 2013

On 28 December 2003, it was reported by The Sunday Telegraph and other media that Lane Fox would join Selfridges, which had been bought by Galen Weston, and take over the day-to-day running of the business, but this had not occurred by the time of her car accident in 2004.[7]

In 2005, Julian Douglas, an advertising executive, suggested launching a private karaoke bar in London. Together with Nick Thistleton she launched a private karaoke company, Lucky Voice, with a club in Soho, London.[5] The company has seven bars in the United Kingdom, an online application, and an additional product to be used with computers.

In 2007 Lane Fox joined the board of Marks & Spencer as a non-executive director.[5] She is also on the board of Channel 4. In 2007 Lane Fox joined the board of an interior design and furniture website,, the start-up venture of her partner, Brent Hoberman.

On 16 June 2009, she was appointed the UK Government's Digital Inclusion Champion to head a two-year campaign to make the British public more computer literate.[8][9][10][11] She has argued that "I don't think you can be a proper citizen of our society in the future if you are not engaged online."[12]

On 22 March 2010 her government role was expanded when it was announced that she would set up a new Digital Public Services Unit within the Cabinet Office. [13]

In June 2010, the incoming Government asked Lane Fox to expand her role as UK Digital Champion to advise how online public services delivery could help to provide better and more efficient services, as well as getting more people online. She was invited to sit on the Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Board.[14] In July 2010 David Cameron hosted an event at 10 Downing Street to celebrate her Manifesto for a Networked Nation – a challenge for people and organisations in every sector and every corner of the country to work together to inspire, encourage and support as many new people as possible to get online by the end of 2012. By the beginning of 2011 the Race Online 2012 campaign had over 1000 partners pledging to reach almost 2 million adults. In November 2013, she resigned as UK digital champion after three years, stating "I feel it is now time I step down from that role. As Chair of Go ON UK, I will focus my efforts on the vital issue of building digital skills."[15]

In April 2012, Lane Fox launched Go ON UK, a charity focused on making the UK the world's most digitally skilled nation. Go ON UK wants every individual,small business and charity to have the skills and confidence to benefit from new digital services. Lane Fox currently chairs the Go ON UK board.

Lane Fox entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member.[2] In her maiden speech she addressed the need for skills and understanding of the digital world in all parts of the UK economy. She highlighted the lack of skills at the top of corporate, public and political life, leading to "a lack of high quality decisions about our future—a future where so much will inevitably revolve around technology. Only four FTSE 100 businesses have a CTO or digital executive on their plc board and yet all these businesses face huge upheavals".[16]

The Open University appointed her as Chancellor in March 2014, with effect from September 2014.[17]

In August 2014, Lane Fox was one of 200 signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[18]

In 2015, Lane Fox delivered the Richard Dimbleby Lecture on the theme of "dot everyone".

In April 2016, Lane Fox joined the board[19] of US-based social network Twitter.

Charity work

Lane Fox is an advocate of causes such as human rights, women's rights and social justice. In 2007 she founded Antigone,[20] a grant-making trust to support charities based in the UK.

She is a patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity, which made the news during its involvement in the release of a UK resident, Binyam Mohammed, from Guantanamo Bay.[5] Lane Fox is also a patron of Camfed, which is dedicated to fighting poverty, HIV and AIDS in rural Africa through the education of girls and young women.[21]

When the telecom company Orange withdrew its 17-year-long support for the Orange Prize for women's fiction, Lane Fox was one of several benefactors, along with Cherie Blair and Joanna Trollope, who offered financial support to keep the prize, to be at least temporarily known as the Women's Prize for Fiction, going until another major sponsor is found.[22]

Honours and assessment

Lane Fox was appointed Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for "services to the digital economy and charity".[23] In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[24] In the same month it was announced that she was to be created a life peer in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.[25]

On 25 March 2013, she was raised to the peerage as Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, of Soho in the City of Westminster[26] and was introduced in the House of Lords the next day.[1] Her surname is not hyphenated, but her title is.[27]

On 29 October 2015, Fox was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 15 in the list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs.[28][29]

In February 2016, Fox was made a Distinguished Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, by HRH, The Duke of Kent, BCS's patron.[30]

Personal life

Lane Fox lives in Marylebone, London, with her long-term partner Chris Gorell Barnes.[31][32]

In May 2004 she was severely injured in a car accident in the tourist resort of Essaouira in Morocco, and she was flown to England for treatment. She was discharged from hospital in December 2005 after recovering at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and later at Wellington Hospital in London. She had skin grafts, and fractured bones were held in position with internal metal supports.[5][33]


  1. ^ a b "Introduction of Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho and Lord Berkeley of Knighton". UK Parliament. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox joins House of Lords". BBC News. 26 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Martha Lane Fox appointed as Chancellor of The Open University". 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  4. ^ "The team". Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Jonathan Prynn (22 May 2007). "22 May 2007, Martha Lane Fox joins M&S". Evening Standard, "This is Money". Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  6. ^ Pesola, Maija (11 May 2005). "Sabre agrees to buy Lastminute for £577m". Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  7. ^ King, Emily (2012). "Martha The internet boom star turned digital activist: Martha Lane Fox". The Gentlewoman. Retrieved 30 Mar 2015. 
  8. ^ "About us". Race Online 2012. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  9. ^ "article on Digital Britain". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  10. ^ Brown, maggie (2009-07-16). "Martha Lane Fox – what she'll do as the UK's digital inclusion champion". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  11. ^ "UK digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, wants to get everyone of working age online by 2012". BBC News. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  12. ^ "UK | Magazine | The internet's conscientious objectors". BBC News. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  13. ^ Thomson, Rebecca (2010-03-22). "Gordon Brown turns his focus to digital economy". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  14. ^ "Martha Lane Fox appointed UK Digital Champion". Inside Government. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Nguyen, Anh (29 November 2013). "UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox quits". Computerworld UK. IDG Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Lane Fox, Martha. "h Anniversary of the World Wide Web". Daily Hansard. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Nguyen, Anh. "Open University Appoints Martha Lane Fox as Chancellor". ComputerWorld UK. IDG Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  19. ^ "Martha Lane Fox to join Twitter board - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-04-13. 
  20. ^ "Antigone". Antigone. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  21. ^ Camfed on BBC Radio 4 this Christmas Day Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. at Camfed
  22. ^ Armitstead, Claire (8 October 2012). "Orange prize saved by private donors after organisers fail to find sponsor". The Guardian. London. 
  23. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 7. 
  24. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  25. ^ "House of Lords, Official Website - New peers announced". Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "No. 60461". The London Gazette. 27 March 2013. p. 6071. 
  27. ^ "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox to get peerage". BBC News. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  28. ^ "Influential Brits combine both fame & fortune". Business Matters. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  29. ^ "British Entrepreneurs Top 100: From Lord Sugar to Victoria Beckham, These Are the Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK". Richtopia. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  30. ^ "Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho awarded BCS Distinguished Fellowships | News releases | Press Office | Policy and media | BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT". Retrieved 2017-02-27. 
  31. ^ Ashton, James (19 July 2009). "Martha Lane Fox back". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  32. ^ King 2012.
  33. ^ Simon Brooke (4 July 2005). "Lane Fox's new venture". 
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