Tom King, Baron King of Bridgwater
Thomas Jeremy King, Baron King of Bridgwater, CH, PC (born 13 June 1933) is a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet from 1983–92, and was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Bridgwater in Somerset from 1970–2001. He was made a life peer in 2001.
Life and career
King was educated at two independent schools: at St Michael's School, a former boys' preparatory school (later co-educational), in the village of Tawstock in North Devon, followed by Rugby School (Sheriff House), a boarding school for boys in Warwickshire, before attending Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
King was brought into the Cabinet in 1983 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. After brief stints as the Environment Secretary and Transport Secretary, he went on to hold the posts of Employment Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary at a time when these were high-profile roles with the potential for controversy.
In October 1988, John McCann, Finbar Cullen and Martina Shanahan, all from the Irish Republic, were convicted at Winchester Crown Court of conspiracy to murder King near his home in Wiltshire and sentenced to 25 years in jail. No evidence was produced in the trial that the defendants belonged to the IRA. The trio were freed after serving two and a half years after their convictions were quashed. The Court of Appeal ruled that their trial could have been prejudiced by comments made by King who said the defendants should not have the right to remain silent. The former Master of the Rolls Lord Denning criticised the Appeal Court ruling, stating: "British justice has been betrayed by the Court of Appeal, in my opinion. Justice was done at Winchester Crown Court."
King went on to serve as Defence Secretary under Prime Minister John Major during the Gulf War. He left the Cabinet after the 1992 general election, and returned to the backbenches where he served as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee from 1994–2001, during which time KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin defected to reveal 87-year-old Melita Norwood as a Soviet spy.
King left the House of Commons at the 2001 general election, and was made a life peer as Baron King of Bridgwater. He now sits in the House of Lords. He serves as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Group on National and International Security, which was set up by David Cameron in 2006.
Styles of address
- 1933–1970: Mr Tom King
- 1970–1979: Mr Tom King MP
- 1979–1992: The Right Honourable Tom King MP
- 1992–2001: The Right Honourable Tom King CH MP
- 2001: The Right Honourable Tom King CH
- 2001–: The Right Honourable The Lord King of Bridgwater CH PC
In popular culture
- "Three Convicted of Plot to Kill Ulster Minister". AP. 28 October 1988. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- McGonagle, Suzanne (24 February 2015). "Gun haul 'may have been linked to murder attempt on Tom King'". The Irish News. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- "Denning condemns freeing of the Winchester Three". The Herald. 30 April 1990. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- "More KGB revelations to come". BBC News.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Tom King
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Bridgwater
| Secretary of State for the Environment
| Secretary of State for Transport
| Secretary of State for Employment
The Lord Young of Graffham
| Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
| Secretary of State for Defence
|New office|| Chairperson of the Intelligence and Security Committee