Tom King, Baron King of Bridgwater
Thomas Jeremy King, Baron King of Bridgwater, CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

, PC
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 (born 13 June 1933), is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

. A member of the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

, he served in the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

 from 1983–92, and was the Member of Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 (MP) for the constituency of Bridgwater
Bridgwater (UK Parliament constituency)
Bridgwater was a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, until 2010 when it was replaced by the Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency...

 in Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

 from 1970-2001. He was made a life peer
Life peer
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the Peerage whose titles cannot be inherited. Nowadays life peerages, always of baronial rank, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as...

 in 2001.


King was educated at Rugby School
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

 (Sheriff House), an independent school
Independent school
An independent school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance; it is not dependent upon national or local government for financing its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts, and in some cases the...

 for boys in Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, before going on to Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 (Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Emmanuel College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay on the site of a Dominican friary...


Military service

King served as an officer in the Somerset Light Infantry and during this period of national service he was seconded to the King's African Rifles.

Political career

King was elected to Parliament at the 1970 Bridgwater by-election
Bridgwater by-election, 1970
The Bridgwater by-election of March 12, 1970 was the first election in the United Kingdom to be held after the voting age had been reduced from 21 to 18. The seat was held by the Conservatives on a turnout of 70.3%.-Results:...

, following the death of the sitting MP, Sir Gerald Wills
Gerald Wills
Sir Gerald Wills, MBE was a British Barrister and politician who was Member of Parliament for Bridgwater from 1950 until his death....


King was brought into the Cabinet in 1983 by Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. After brief stints as the Environment Secretary
Secretary of State for the Environment
The Secretary of State for the Environment was a UK cabinet position, responsible for the Department of the Environment . This was created by Edward Heath as a combination of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Building and Works on 15...

 and Transport Secretary
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

, he went on to hold the posts of Employment Secretary
Secretary of State for Employment
The Secretary of State for Employment was a position in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. In 1995 it was merged with Secretary of State for Education to make the Secretary of State for Education and Employment...

 and Northern Ireland Secretary
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, informally the Northern Ireland Secretary, is the principal secretary of state in the government of the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State is a Minister of the Crown who is accountable to the Parliament of...

 at a time when these were high-profile roles with the potential for controversy. King's career in the Cabinet may appear odd to some observers due to his many quick moves between departments. The moves were a reflection of his ability to 'master his brief' quickly, and as successive crisis hit the government it was King who was moved to fill the gap. King never had a strong public profile compared to other members of the Cabinet, but neither did he draw attention to himself by elementary errors or public gaffes.

King went on to serve as Defence Secretary
Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Defence, popularly known as the Defence Secretary, is the senior Government of the United Kingdom minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position...

 under Prime Minister John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

 during the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. He left the Cabinet after the 1992 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1992
The United Kingdom general election of 1992 was held on 9 April 1992, and was the fourth consecutive victory for the Conservative Party. This election result was one of the biggest surprises in 20th Century politics, as polling leading up to the day of the election showed Labour under leader Neil...

, and returned to the backbenches
In Westminster parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a Member of Parliament or a legislator who does not hold governmental office and is not a Front Bench spokesperson in the Opposition...

 where he served as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee from 1994–2001, during which time KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin was a Major and senior archivist for the Soviet Union's foreign intelligence service, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, and co-author with Christopher Andrew of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, a massive account of Soviet intelligence...

 defected to reveal 87-year-old Melita Norwood
Melita Norwood
Melita Stedman Norwood, née Sirnis, was a British civil servant, traitor and KGB intelligence source who, for a period of about 40 years following her recruitment in 1937, supplied the KGB with state secrets from her job at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association...

 as a Soviet spy.

King left the House of Commons at the 2001 general election
United Kingdom general election, 2001
The United Kingdom general election, 2001 was held on Thursday 7 June 2001 to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. It was dubbed "the quiet landslide" by the media, as the Labour Party was re-elected with another landslide result and only suffered a net loss of 6 seats...

, and was made a life peer as Baron King of Bridgwater. He now sits in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. He serves as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Group on National and International Security, which was set up by David Cameron
David Cameron
David William Donald Cameron is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament ....

 in 2006.

Personal life

King is married to Jane Tilney, now Lady King. The couple have a son, Rupert (married to media and entertainment solicitor Alice Rayman), and a daughter, Elisa.

King currently lives in Castle Combe
Castle Combe
Castle Combe is a small village in Wiltshire, England, with a population of about 350. It is renowned for its attractiveness and tranquillity, and for fine buildings including the medieval church. The 14th century market cross, erected when the privilege to hold a weekly market in Castle Combe was...

, Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

. He is a practising member of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and attends church most Sundays.

In popular culture

King was portrayed by Peter Blythe
Peter Blythe
Peter Blythe was a British character actor, best known as Samuel "Soapy Sam" Ballard on Rumpole of the Bailey.-Early life:...

 in the 2004 BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 production of The Alan Clark Diaries
The Alan Clark Diaries
The Alan Clark Diaries is a 2004 BBC television serial dramatising the diaries of the controversial British Conservative politician Alan Clark.-March of the Grey Men:...


King was the subject of a song in the satirical ITV programme Spitting Image
Spitting Image
Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

in which he was depicted as the Invisible Man
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H.G. Wells published in 1897. Wells' novel was originally serialised in Pearson's Weekly in 1897, and published as a novel the same year...

 during his term as Employment Secretary.

External links

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