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Norman Baker

Norman Baker

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Norman Baker has been MP for Lewes since 1997 and has established a reputation as one of the most dogged and persistent parliamentary interrogators the modern House of Commons has known.

Born in Aberdeen, Norman moved to Hornchurch in Essex in 1968 and was educated at the Royal Liberty School, Gidea Park, in London before taking a degree in German (and running one of the college bars) at Royal Holloway College, University of London.

After leaving university Norman held a variety of jobs and was executive regional director for Our Price Records for five years from 1978. From 1985 he taught English as a second language for two years.

He was elected to his local councils - Lewes District and Beddingham Parish - in 1987, and two years later was elected to East Sussex County Council to represent Telscombe. In 1991 he led the Liberal Democrats to victory on Lewes District Council, becoming that council’s first ever Liberal Democrat leader. He contested the Lewes parliamentary constituency in 1992, and at his second attempt in 1997 succeeded in becoming the seat’s first non-Conservative MP since 1874.

As an MP Norman made his reputation for uncovering scandal and exposing conflicts of interest and uncomfortable facts, criticising the Millennium Dome project and largely contributing to Peter Mandelson’s second resignation over his relations with the Hinduja brothers. Norman was appointed Liberal Democrat spokesman on animal welfare in 1999, and won an award as “best newcomer MP” for his campaigning on environmental issues. In 2001 Norman was named “Inquisitor of the Year” in the Zurich/Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards, and in February 2002 Channel 4 named him “Opposition MP of the Year”. In 2003 he received the RSPCA’s Lord Erskine Award in recognition of his campaigning for animal welfare.

He was promoted to the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet in October 2002 as Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment and Transport, and from 2005 as Shadow Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Secretary. In May 2006 he stepped down from the Shadow Cabinet, announcing that he intended to concentrate on further investigation of unanswered questions about the death of Dr David Kelly, the scientist found dead in 2003 after being named as the possible source of a BBC story on the Government’s dossier justifying the invasion of Iraq. In 2007 Norman was appointed Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

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